MAY 26, 2010: UN Relief Chief Welcomes U.S. Move Against Rebel Group

UN Relief Chief Welcomes U.S. Move Against Rebel Group
 
SOURCE: UN News Service
 

Citing the horrors he himself witnessed during a recent African tour, the United Nations humanitarian chief today praised United States legislation seeking to protect civilians from the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), the notorious Ugandan rebel group.

"As the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator, I very much welcome President Barack Obama's approval of the bill - The Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009," Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes said.

In a mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) last month, he visited Niangara, near the site of LRA massacres that displaced more than 280,000 people in December. Since December 2007, in DRC alone, almost 1,800 people have been killed and 2,300 abducted, more than 800 of them children under the most brutal circumstances, due to LRA activity.

"I met one young woman in hospital, a mother of four, whose ear and lips were sliced off a few weeks ago by LRA rebels, for no reason at all," Mr. Holmes said. "I have met many LRA victims in over three years as the UN's humanitarian chief, and I have heard the same stories over and over again in Uganda, south Sudan, and the Central African Republic (CAR). The list of LRA atrocities is just too long, after more than 20 years - and it shows no signs of ending."

The US legislation seeks to support stabilization and lasting peace in northern Uganda and areas affected by the LRA through development of a regional strategy to support multilateral efforts to protect civilians, eliminate the threat posed by the group and authorize funds for humanitarian relief and reconstruction, reconciliation, and transitional justice.

Mr. Holmes, who is also the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, welcomed the bill's provisions for increasing assistance to war-affected communities in northern Uganda and supporting initiatives to help resolve long-standing divisions between Uganda's north and south.

The LRA was formed in the late 1980s in northern Uganda and for over 15 years its attacks were mainly directed against Ugandan civilians and security forces, which in 2002 dislodged the rebels, who then exported their attacks to Uganda's neighbours, including the DRC and Sudan.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued arrest warrants for LRA commander-in-chief, Joseph Kony, and other senior officers on 33 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

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