Civil society asks MONUSCO to improve protection of civilians from the LRA

Posted by | March 13, 2014 | DR Congo | No Comments

Today we are highlighting an open letter we co-signed with 58 civil society groups and organizations from around the world to urge MONUSCO to improve their efforts to protect civilians from the Lord’s Resistance Army in central Africa, a letter spearheaded by The Resolve LRA Crisis Initiative in tandem with Fr. Ernest Sugule, National Coordinator of SAIPED.

“While we recognize that MONUSCO has many competing demands across Congo and faces significant resource constraints, we believe that with focused leadership the mission could more effectively utilize existing resources to keep people safe from the LRA,” said Paul Ronan, Project Director of The Resolve LRA Crisis Initiative.

In particular, the letter urges UN leaders to ensure MONUSCO personnel in LRA-affected areas do the following:

1. Reestablish trust and information sharing with the local civilian population, including ensuring MONUSCO personnel meet more frequently with a wide range of civil society representatives, including women, youth, elders, and religious leaders;

2. Support community self-protection initiatives, including by proactively sharing information about LRA movements with a wider range of civil society actors and by implementing Quick Impact Projects;

3. Ensure peacekeeper patrols are responsive to LRA threats and that MONUSCO personnel more thoroughly investigate LRA attacks;

4. Revitalize campaigns to encourage LRA defections, including by collaborating with civil society and the US government to quickly respond to indications from LRA members that they want to defect [which is too often not what happens].

Today we amplify the opinions and requests of the many civil society groups throughout NE DRC that DTJ has worked with in close proximity over the last few years. Their request to senior MONUSCO officials to do more to protect civilians demands a response. We are honored to be a signatory on this important letter. To read the full letter, click here.

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Groups urge UN peacekeepers to protect civilians as LRA abductions surge in DRC

UN Security Council set to meet on DRC in March

KINSHASA, 13 March, 2014 – With Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) still a grave threat to civilians, a letter from 59 civil society groups released today calls on the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) to improve efforts to protect civilians from the rebel group. The LRA has abducted over 3,400 Congolese civilians and killed over 2,400 others since 2008, making it one of the most violent armed groups in DRC over the past six years.

“The LRA has killed Congolese civilians and abducted Congolese children for too long,” said Dr. Shelly Whitman, Executive Director of The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative. “MONUSCO can and must play a more active role in protecting civilians and ending LRA violence in DRC once and for all.”

In February 2014 alone the LRA abducted 35 people in 20 attacks in Haut Uele district of DRC’s Orientale Province, the most abductions the group has committed in one month there since April 2012. MONUSCO troops are deployed in villages close to areas where the LRA attacked but have been slow to respond. In recent years, Congolese community leaders and international NGOs have consistently raised concerns that MONUSCO does not respond effectively or quickly enough to reports of LRA attacks in Haut Uele.

“The LRA is once again attacking innocent civilians with impunity just kilometers away from UN peacekeepers,” said Fr. Ernest Sugule of the Congolese civil society group SAIPED. “MONUSCO should urgently respond with increased patrols in vulnerable areas and investigations to determine which LRA commanders are responsible for these attacks.”

The UN Security Council is set to review MONUSCO’s mandate this month, with the focus expected to be on stabilizing DRC’s troubled eastern region. In a letter addressed to MONUSCO’s senior leadership, the civil society groups urge the UN mission also to take proactive measures to protect civilians from the LRA.

“MONUSCO faces severe challenges in protecting civilians across a country as vast as DRC,” said Dr. Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. “But MONUSCO can do more with the resources they have, and the UN Security Council should ensure they do so.”

The letter urges MONUSCO personnel to build better relationships with community leaders in LRA-affected areas of DRC, highlighting how improved information sharing can strengthen the mission’s efforts to protect civilians and encourage members of the LRA to defect.

“Congolese community leaders play essential roles managing early warning and protection systems and preventing local conflicts,” said Ned Dalby at Conciliation Resources. “To fulfill their mandate MONUSCO peacekeepers need to work alongside civil society.”

In 2013, the LRA committed at least 124 attacks and abducted nearly 200 civilians in the DRC. Over 236,000 Congolese civilians remain displaced by LRA attacks, including nearly 18,000 who fled to neighboring countries.

“We have waited patiently for MONUSCO to show us they are willing to respond to LRA attacks, only to be disappointed too often,” said Fr. Ernest. “It is time MONUSCO fulfills its responsibility to protect our people from the LRA.”

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Press contacts

New York, NY: Lindsay Branham, Program Director, DTJ 202 368 2921 lindsay@DTJ.org

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Signatory organizations and representatives

AFRICA

  1. Action Humanitaire Justice pour Victime
  2. Action pour le Développement et la Protection Communautaire (ADPC)
  3. Association de Taxi Moto Dungu (ATAMOD)
  4. Association des agriculteurs de Bangadi
  5. Association des Femmes des Nazawa pour le Développement (AFND)
  6. Associations des Mamans de Bangadi
  7. Associations des Mamans de Duru
  8. Association des Mamans de Ngilima
  9. Association Nationale des Mamans pour l’Aide aux Déshérités (ANAMAD)
  10. Carrefour juridique culturel
  11. Centre de Réinsertion et d’Accompagnement au Développement (CRAD)
  12. Coalition Congolaise pour la Justice Transitionnelle (CCJT)
  13. Coalition Nationale pour la CPI en RDC
  14. Collectif des Auxiliaires Libéraux de Justice
  15. Commission Autochtone de Lutte contre la LRA: CALL
  16. Commission Diocésaine de Justice et Paix du Dioèce d’Isiro Niangara
  17. Commission Diocésaine de Justice et Paix du Diocèse Dungu Doruma
  18. Commission Diocècaine de Justice, Paix et Réconciliation, Diocèce Anglicanne d’Aru
  19. Congo Action pour le Développement (CAD)
  20. Communauté pour la Promotion des Humains (CPH)
  21. Communicateurs pour la Promotion, Protection et Défense des Droits de L’homme plus la Ligue des Femmes Défenseures de droits Humains ont leurs sièges au Kasai Oriental (COPPRODDHO ONGDH )
  22. Congo en Images (CIM)
  23. Dynamique de Développement Durable (DDD)
  24. Fondation Congolaise pour la Promotion des Droits de l’Homme et la Paix
  25. Fondation point de vue des jeunes africains pour le développement (FPJAD asbl)
  26. Forum des Mamans de l’Ituri (FOMI)
  27. Groupe d’Associations de Défense des Droits de l’Homme et de la Paix (GADHOP)
  28. Groupe LOTUS
  29. Initiative Congolaise pour la Justice et la Paix (ICJP)
  30. Institut Supérieur de Dungu (ISD)
  31. JUSTICIA Asbl
  32. la Ligue des femmes défenseures des Droits Humains (LIFEDDH)
  33. Ligue des volontaires pour la défense des droits humains (LISVDHE)
  34. Ligue Nationale Pour Les Elections Libres et Transparentes (LINELIT)
  35. Ligue pour la Promotion et le Développement Intégral de la Femme et de l’Enfant
  36. Mama Tiya Molende (MTM)
  37. ONGDH Justice Plus
  38. Option pour Assister les Personnes Vulnérables (OAPV)
  39. Président de la société civile Bangadi
  40. Président de la société civile de Faradje
  41. Protection, Action pour le Développement Intégrale (PADI)
  42. Réseau des associations des droits de l’homme du Sud Kivu (RADHOSKI)
  43. Réseau des Organisations féminines des Uélés (ROFU) [15 organisations féminines]
  44. Rt. Rev. Samuel Enosa Peni, Bishop of the Diocese of Nzara, South Sudan and Chair for Regional Taskforce for Religious Leaders and Civil Society in the LRA-affected region
  45. Société Civile de Niangara
  46. Solidarité des Volontaires pour l’Humanité (SVH)
  47. Solidarité Féminine pour la Paix et le Développement Intégral (SOFEPADI)
  48. Solidarité et Assistance Intégrale aux Personnes Démunies (SAIPED)
  49. Terre des enfants
  50. Youth Program for the Development of Africa (YPDA)

NORTH AMERICA/EUROPE

  1. Conciliation Resources
  2. Discover the Journey
  3. The Enough Project
  4. European Network for Central Africa (EurAc)
  5. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  6. Jocelyn Kelly, Director, Women in War Program, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative
  7. PAX
  8. The Resolve LRA Crisis Initiative
  9. The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative

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