Since 1933, the IRC has provided hope and humanitarian aid to refugees and other victims of oppression and violent conflict around the world.
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VOICES FROM THE FIELDTHE IRC BLOG
Protecting Africa’s children from Joseph Kony and the LRA [Behind the Headlines]
March 11, 2012
By The IRC
The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) continues to terrorize villages, abduct children and massacre innocent people. Since 1998, the IRC has been working to support the LRA's victims and bring attention to this crisis.
Who are Joseph Kony and the LRA?
What did the LRA do?
From 1987 to 2006, the LRA attacked and murdered civilians and abducted children in northern Uganda. More than 2 million people were uprooted from their homes and most ended up living in camps that lacked food, clean water, and sanitation.
Tens of thousands of children were abducted over the course of the conflict and turned into soldiers, porters, cooks or sex slaves. Many were killed or forced to harm or kill others, including their own relatives.
Fearing abduction by the LRA, children in the countryside left their homes at night and traveled miles on foot to sleep in bus stations, churches, storefronts and on the streets of towns before returning home the next morning. Called “night commuters,” the children made this trip every evening even though it put them at risk of harassment and rape.
In 2006, a ceasefire agreement between the LRA and the government brought relative peace to northern Uganda. The vast majority of people living in camps went to their home villages where they have begun to support themselves again.
Are Kony and the LRA still a threat to children and others in Uganda?
Kony and the LRA have left Uganda and have been on the move in remote areas of neighboring countries, including northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic. The LRA continues to terrorize villages, abduct children and massacre innocent people.
What has the International Rescue Committee (IRC) done to support the LRA’s victims?
In 2002, the Ugandan Amnesty Commission designated the IRC a lead agency in receiving and reintegrating into society formerly abducted children and young adults. IRC staff members included former child soldiers who had managed to escape and restart their lives.
In addition to our work in the field, the IRC has worked for years to inform politicians and diplomats around the world about the crisis wrought by the LRA and to speak up on behalf of the people the LRA has harmed.
Members of the IRC’s board and staff have issued statements, briefed policy makers and journalists, lobbied for action, supported and spoken at rallies, and helped documentary film makers.
In recognition of everything the IRC has done to help the victims of the LRA and bring attention to this crisis, IRC President George Rupp was invited to the Oval Office of the White House to see President Obama sign into law the Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009.
What is the IRC doing for Ugandans today?
- trained health workers to provide clinical care to survivors of sexual assault. We’ve also taught health workers how to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV.
- worked with a local organization to start an innovative telephone hotline in northern Uganda where survivors could call to learn what services were available.
- rehabilitated health centers and taught local community members to diagnose and treat common childhood illnesses.
- helped farmers who have recently returned to their fields to increase their harvests and market their crops.
What can concerned Americans do to help?
- Educate yourself about poverty and humanitarian crises in Central Africa.
- Sign up to receive the IRC’s monthly emails with news on this topic and other urgent humanitarian crises. For more frequent updates, ‘like’ us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.
- Tell Members of Congress that you care about what happens to innocent civilians in crisis zones, and urge them to take action.
- Support the IRC and ask your family and friends to do the same. Learn more about our work at Rescue.org.
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