By Vision Reporter
RELIGIOUS and civil society leaders from countries affected by Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) want urgent action to end LRA atrocities, protect civilians still vulnerable to LRA atrocities and support the recovery of affected communities.
The religious leaders last week met in the Belgian capital Brussels and deliberated on the LRA issue and lobbied authorities to take action on the LRA conflict.
They included Archbishop John Baptist Odama from Gulu archdiocese, Archbishop Marcel Utembi from the Catholic archdiocese of Kisangani in DR Congo, Bishop Samuel Peni Nosa from the Anglican Diocese of Nzara in South Sudan.
Also present were participants from Europe and US, civil society organisations that include Invisible Children, Enough Project and The Resolve.
In a joint statement at the end of the meeting, the religious leaders called for urgent action to end LRA atrocities and support the recovery of affected communities.
“The LRA remains a critical situation in the region,” said Archbishop Utembi and one of the civil society leaders present. “In order to overcome this crisis, we need a coordinated approach from every actor in the region, and increased support to local organizations working to help those most affected.”
A joint statement signed by the religious leaders, acknowledges encouraging progress made in reducing LRA attacks in recent years, but notes increased killings in CAR, where political instability lets LRA to thrive.
Also, more than 400,000 people across three countries of CAR, DR Congo and South Sudan are displaced due to fear of the LRA’s brutal and unpredictable attacks.
They also expressed concern over the increase in LRA attacks in CAR, where political instability is providing opportunities for LRA and other armed groups to commit atrocities with impunity.
They also called on the African Union (AU), European Union (EU) and international donors to support the AU Regional Task Force (RTF) which comprises of LRA-affected countries through logistics and training.
“Although the LRA may seem a decreasing problem and although the broader situation in Central African Republic merits all possible attention, we should certainly not forget the LRA problem,” said Joost van Puijenbroek of IKV Pax Christi in Netherlands.
“We have to continue and strengthen the strategies in place of the AU, UN and US to address the LRA issue. If we diminish our efforts now we give the LRA the space it needs to reconstitute itself. Extreme suffering of the population as in the past will intensify once again and all efforts risk having been in vain. The EU should increase its funding and political support for these strategies.”