Lindsay Branham Jocelyn Kelly
Program Director Director, Women in War Program
Community Suffering Unceasing in LRA-affected areas; International Response Remains Insufficient
New Study Reveals Exhaustive Impacts of Violence
WASHINGTON – LRA – affected communities cite unending effects of LRA violence, detailing the struggle to maintain financial viability, agricultural access, security and protection. A new report from Discover the Journey and Harvard Humanitarian Initiative marks one of the first efforts to systematically document the wide and severe impact of violence on every area of life for formerly abducted children and their communities in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).The humanitarian needs of the communities devastated by Joseph Kony’s notorious Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) must be a top priority during the UN Security Council’s meeting on Wednesday.
Respondents in the study stressed that the international community must assist with providing essential services through long-term engagement, including life-saving health services; improving water and sanitation access; and providing psychosocial and educational interventions to formerly abducted children and adults. Additional areas of need emphasized by respondents include:
– Growing rates of HIV/AIDS; Service providers interviewed cited that HIV/AIDS has become a significant and increasing threat.
– Psychosocial needs of children returning from abduction by the LRA, specifically young girls who face a myriad of reproductive health and psychosocial consequences;
– Communities’ restricted access to economic and agricultural opportunities; specifically, their inability to cultivate new lands to serve host as well as displaced populations and its compounded negative effects on food insecurity.
While current conditions mandate emergency-level intervention, respondents assert the need for solutions that will last into the future and address resulting conditions beyond the immediate impact of violent atrocities.
The study affirms the internationally accepted need to capture the LRA’s leader, Joseph Kony, and secure peace for the region. The LRA is a brutal rebel movement that has committed some of the most grievous human rights abuses in Africa in recent decades. The group is particularly known for its merciless conscription of children into its ranks. Currently, the LRA is active in South Sudan, northeastern DRC and Central African Republic. The dire impact of the LRA’s predatory violence includes the looting of possessions, abduction of children and massacre of civilians, as well as the compounded downstream health, psychosocial and economic repercussions
“I don’t know why the LRA exists,” said a leader of an internally displaced persons camp near Dungu, a town in northeastern DRC. “I feel like they’ve just come to kill all of us.”
Although fear of continued violence remains, respondents continually highlighted the need for a more holistic, long-term engagement to protect civilians and establish stability.
“The DTJ and HHI initiative is breaking new ground in that it is among the first to undertake significant analysis of the impact of the LRA on the people of northeastern Congo. This is an area of focus largely neglected despite calls for action to the contrary by humanitarians working in the region,” said Ian Rowe, the Head of Unit DDR/RR – Political Analysis & LRA Focal Point for the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Rowe also emphasizes that this report provides a needed starting point in highlighting the long-term consequences of LRA atrocities on Congolese communities, while also stressing that the international community must conduct more extensive consultation with a broader selection of communities throughout the Ueles in order to grasp the true depth and complexity this region of the Congo endures.
The study asserts that integrated solutions are needed to respond to multi-level problems – continuing to work with communities to build on current protection and resilience strategies, while strengthening the national and international response, will be critical to addressing the continued LRA threat.
HARVARD HUMANITARIAN INITIATIVE
The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) is a university-wide center involving multiple entities within the Harvard community that provide expertise in public health, medicine, social science, management, and other disciplines to promote evidence-based approaches to humanitarian assistance.
DISCOVER THE JOURNEY
Discover the Journey (DTJ) is a nexus of journalists, filmmakers, storytellers, artists and supporters who use media to expose injustice facing children in-crisis. DTJ’s solution uses media creation, distribution and leverage to contribute to the human rights movement protecting children globally.