LRA’s Madness

Posted by | DR Congo, Lindsay Branham, Mobile Cinema, Reportage | No Comments

A few days ago I was caught in a thunderstorm by the river. The lightning cracked over the Uele river and the rain came down hard. They say it was the first big rain, ushering in the saison de pluit (rainy season). After months of dust and dry earth, it is welcomed. But in the midst of the heavy winds and thunder, the looting of a school near Dungu centre sparked mass panic amongst the population, causing people to flee across the river, fearing the looting was an LRA attack. Over the last few weeks there have been confirmed LRA attacks moving progressively closer to Dungu. The fear of what comes next has mounted within people and the combination of heavy rain and a few shots fired by the FARDC sent dozens if not several hundred people running with their belongings. I was walking back to the UN when I saw a line of people stretching in both directions as children, men and women, balancing what they owned and could carry, faces drawn taught in fear, told us the LRA was attacking Dungu.

Rumors spread fast, but no one wanted to risk the potential that it might be true. And so they fled. The history of what the LRA has done in this region has left a formidable trail of terror that people are ready to abandon their homes and run at the mention of their approach. “This is our life,” says Ferdinand, who lives in Dungu centre and fled with his community across the river that night. “We sleep but we don’t, we are always alert, in case the LRA comes,” he said, exhausted after a night in the rain, convinced the LRA was near.

For now, though it was confirmed by OCHA that it was not the LRA, people in Dungu question that conclusion, blaming Congolese politics and ulterior motivations for potentially discounting other potentially actual LRA attacks as mere banditry.

The LRA’s method of serial abduction, murder and looting has rendered the people in Dungu on high alert.

That night as the wind blew and the rain came down, knowing dozens, perhaps hundreds of people were huddled somewhere, too scared to go back home, put this madness in perspective. It is just that.

– Written by Lindsay Branham from Dungu, DRC

DTJ Speaks at the 21st Anniversary of the CRC at Harvard University

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This week DTJ’s Jonathan Olinger and Lindsay Branham spoke at the Convention on the Rights of the Child Conference at Harvard University. This year marks the 21st anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which was developed as a human rights treaty outlining the civic, political, economic, social, health and human rights of children globally. The conference, held December 8th and 9th considered ways to advance the CRC’s transformative agenda with respect to adolescents aged 10 to 18. On Thursday December 8th, Harvard Provost Alan Garber and global philanthropist Albina du Boisrouvray will address the opening plenary session, featuring a conversation between Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen and UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake about the cost of inaction on issues affecting adolescent opportunity. Jonathan and Lindsay will give remarks during the morning session on Friday December 9th.

DTJ is also presenting three multi-media pieces corresponding to the three panels during the conference, giving context and story to the issues being discussed. Maombi: the story of a former girl child soldier in DRC, Not Afraid: the story of a young boy who survived a landmine explosion in Afghanistan, and The Clarinetist: the story of a teenage boy overcoming violence through music in Juarez, Mexico. Maombi was shot and produced by DTJ, Not Afraid was shot by contributing photographer Rafael Sanchez-Fabres and produced by DTJ and The Clarinetist was shot and produced by Dominic Bracco II with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. The stories will be available to the public through DTJ soon.

This 21st anniversary marks an important moment for children and DTJ is honored to bring the stories of children before the world’s leaders as they seek to find solutions to the billions of children living in crisis. DTJ is thankful for this unique partnership between DTJ and the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University.

The conference is hosted by the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights in collaboration with:

■ UNICEF, Gender, Rights and Civic Engagement Section, DPP

■ The Harvard Global Health Institute, Harvard University

■ The Swedish International Development Agency

■ The Committee on African Studies, Harvard University

■ The South Asian Initiative, Harvard University

■ The Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Studies, Harvard University

■ The Mahindra Humanities Center, Harvard University

■ The David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard University

■ The Women and Public Policy Program, Harvard Kennedy School