The Lord Resistance Army (LRA) was born in northern Uganda to fight the government there and establish a theocratic government led by the Acholi, one of the ethnic groups living in Uganda and South Sudan. The group is led by Joseph Kony, who claims to be a medium and speak with the Holy Spirit. For more than two decades, the LRA has waged a civil war maiming and killing civilians, kidnapping children, create unrest in Uganda, Sudan, DR Congo e Central Africa Republic. A new website offers the possibility to follow the group and know the atrocities it commits. It is a way a giving visibility to the plight of many defenceless civilians. Adam Finck, responsible for site, answered our questions.
What is the LRA Crisis Tracker website?
The LRA Crisis Tracker is a groundbreaking crisis-mapping platform that broadcasts in real time the attacks perpetrated by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which continues its 25-year campaign of violence against civilians across the most remote areas of Central Africa. Gathering reports of attacks from a local early-warning radio network supported by Invisible Children, in addition to data sourced from the United Nations, local Non-Government Organizations, and first-hand research, the project immediately becomes the most accurate source of public information on the LRA in existence, resulting in improved efforts to combat LRA atrocities and help communities in need.
Who is behind this initiative?
Invisible Children, an international NGO working to assist communities in LRA-affected areas of Central Africa, in partnership with Resolve, a Washington D.C.-based NGO advocating for an end to atrocities being perpetrated by the LRA, developed the LRA Crisis Tracker with the help of Digitaria, a technology agency.
What do you hope to achieve?
The tool was built to fill the void of timely and accurate information about the LRA’s movements. Prior to the launch of the LRA Crisis Tracker, 4 out of 5 attacks went unreported. Activists, policymakers, and community-run protection organizations in Central Africa will directly benefit from regular reports analyzing LRA movement and attack patterns, with the goal of reducing response time, improving efforts to combat LRA atrocities and helping communities in need.
Was there a specific incident that caused you to conceptualize the LRA Crisis Tracker?
The tool was developed in response to what is now known as the Makombo Massacre. In December of 2009, under the command of ICC-indicted war criminal Joseph Kony, the LRA killed 321 civilians in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Despite the incredible scale and brutality of the violence, the international community did not learn of the massacre until March 2010—three months later.
Everyone seems uninterested in spending time and money to fight the LRA. Do you believe there is the political will to stop this group and offer rehabilitation to these fighters?
Invisible Children has been able to garner an unprecedented amount of support from the American, Canadian, European, and Australian public regarding the LRA conflict. Over 230,000 youth have rallied three times with Invisible Children demanding action. This culminated in the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act that was passed the USA parliament and senate with overwhelming bi-partisan support last year. It was the most widely supported African issue legislation in modern American history. Most recently, President Obama committed to sending 100 military advisers to Central Africa to help stop the LRA.
Do you have some program on the ground to support local communities?
Invisible Children started in northern Uganda, implementing several education and economic based programs that continue to run today. More recently we have followed the LRA to DR Congo, expanding an early warning radio network, reaching the LRA directly through FM Radio Transmissions, and constructing a locally-run rehabilitation center for formerly abducted child soldiers – the first rehabilitation centre in the region.
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