Nineteen Agencies Call for Action to Prevent Another Christmas Massacre by Africa’s Most Brutal Rebel Group

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Nineteen Agencies Call for Action to Prevent Another Christmas Massacre by Africa’s Most Brutal Rebel Group

New report says the Lord’s Resistance Army is now the most deadly militia in the DRC

WASHINGTON - The international community needs to act to prevent another
Christmas massacre and the almost daily killing sprees by the most
brutal and long-running rebel group in Africa said aid agencies in a new
report released today. Massacres meted out by the Lord’s Resistance
Army (LRA) against remote communities in Sudan, the Central African
Republic (CAR) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) over the past
year have been among the worst in the LRA’s 20-year bloody history.

New
figures show that over the past two years the LRA has become the most
deadly militia in the DRC. In the last year alone more than 1,000 people
have been killed or abducted in nearly 200 separate attacks in two
remote districts of DRC – almost four attacks a week across an area
approximately the size of the UK.  

On Christmas Eve 2008
and over the following three weeks, 865 women, men and children were
savagely beaten to death and hundreds more abducted by the LRA in
north-eastern DRC and southern Sudan. Last Christmas, between 14 and 17
December 2009, LRA commanders oversaw the killing of more than 300
people. These attacks have largely gone unnoticed by the outside world.

“It is unbelievable that world leaders continue to tolerate brutal violence
against some of the most isolated villages in central Africa and that
this has been allowed to continue for more than 20 years,” said Marcel
Stoessel, Head of Oxfam in DRC. “This Christmas families in
north-eastern Congo will live in fear of yet another massacre, despite
the presence of the world’s largest peacekeeping mission.”

The LRA is highly mobile and attacks women as they perform their daily tasks
– fetching water or tending to their fields – and children as they
return from school. The LRA abducts, mutilates, rapes and kills women,
men and children, using extreme violence against the most vulnerable.

A new report, ‘Ghosts of Christmas Past
launched today by 19 humanitarian and human rights organizations says
the safety and welfare of women, men and children across the vast
LRA-affected area must finally be given the decisive attention it
demands.  

“The LRA is mostly comprised of abducted or coerced adults and children
who have been forced to commit horrific acts against their community,
making it impossible for them to return home,” said Mark Waddington CEO
of War Child UK. “Children are forced to kill and rape, and many are
used as ‘sex slaves’.

“This must not be allowed to continue. The
international community must work harder to implement the
recommendations in the report and promote the safe release of LRA
abductees and support their reintegration back into their families and
daily life, particularly girls, who are often neglected in such
processes.”

Previous efforts to apprehend the LRA have failed,
the report says. In December 2008 Operation “Lightning Thunder”, a
military offensive against the LRA, failed to capture any senior rebel
commanders. The offensive only prompted brutal retaliations against
communities and pushed the LRA further from their native Uganda across
an area 20 times larger than before.

Recent signs of diplomatic commitment from the African Union and United States
must provide tangible answers that protect the population from violence
and find peaceful solutions, agencies say. That should include focusing
on the realities of national armies' capacity to keep civilians safe
from the LRA, one of the major weaknesses in strategies to date.
 
“As a regional problem the LRA is no one government’s responsibility,”
said Stoessel. “The United Nations Security Council has long neglected
to put the LRA as a specific agenda item and has failed to respond
seriously to atrocities.

 “The international community and
regional governments must work together so that families can finally
tend to their fields and sleep in their homes free from fear.”

Read the report: Ghosts of Christmas Past: Protecting Civilians from the LRA

Take action: Sign a petition to help make families in central Africa safer this Christmas

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Oxfam International is a confederation of 13 like-minded organizations working together and with partners and allies around the world to bring about lasting change. Oxfam works directly with communities and that seeks to influence the powerful to ensure that poor people can improve their lives and livelihoods and have a say in decisions that affect them.

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