For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
+1 617 482 1211 (Toll-free 1-800-77-OXFAM)

Oxfam: To Fully Observe Law, Obama's Fight Against LRA Must Focus on Civilian Protection

Administration officials testified today on President Obama's LRA strategy

WASHINGTON - The widely lauded bipartisan May 2010 law that made way for President Obama’s recent decision to send troops to fight the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) must be fully enacted to include the promised full range of non-military strategies to demobilize the LRA, protect civilians and develop the region the humanitarian organization Oxfam said on Tuesday.

“The law makes it the policy of the US to work with regional governments towards lasting solutions to the conflict which are comprehensive and include non-military strategies not just to defeat senior leadership of the LRA but also to peacefully demobilize low-level fighters, often unwillingly conscripted as children,” Noah Gottschalk, Oxfam America’s Senior Humanitarian Policy Advisor, said.

Gottschalk said Oxfam welcomed US attention to the issue but said it is crucial that lessons are learned from past mistakes such as the disastrous December 2008 Operation Lightening Thunder, a joint military campaign by the Congolese, Ugandan, and South Sudanese armies, supported by the US.

“Not only did Operation Lightning Thunder fail to capture or kill LRA leaders, but it led to devastating reprisal attacks by the LRA.  Approximately 865 women, men and children were killed and thousands were displaced from their homes.  Earlier military attempts before US engagement also caused widespread human suffering but barely dented the LRA itself.”

Today, isolated and vulnerable communities lack proper protection through Congolese police, military or international peacekeepers in the area and are attractive targets for the LRA because of this.   In keeping with the spirit of “The Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009” the US should be reducing these vulnerabilities by improving roads and communication networks, and helping to make Congolese security forces more accountable to the people they serve.

The US should prioritize security sector reforms like supporting the Congolese government to ensure soldiers’ pay and welfare, assisting in the establishment of army garrisons and helping to train soldiers in human rights.


Our Summer Campaign Is Underway

Support Common Dreams Today

Independent News and Views Putting People Over Profit

Oxfam is one of only a handful of groups providing humanitarian aid in LRA-affected areas of DRC where 335,000 people remain displaced because of the armed group.   Even more are caught in a cycle of fleeing and returning, an instable situation that contributes to the area’s poverty.  The situation continues to worsen: a 2011 survey by Oxfam in LRA-affected communities found that 62 percent of 322 interviewees said they felt less safe this year than last.

Read more

Oxfam survey on security in DRC: ‘We are entirely exploitable’: The lack of protection for civilians in eastern DRC (July 2011)

Oxfam's humanitarian response to the conflict in the Democratice Republic of Congo

Protecting civilians must be at the heart of counter-LRA intervention (Oxfam America)

What is the Responsibility to Protect Civilians principle?


This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Won't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

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.

Share This Article

More in: