Goma, DR Congo and Washington, DC – Significant international repercussions for neighboring government support to rebels in Congo, and consumer pressure on companies that trade in conflict minerals, are weakening armed groups and providing new leverage for U.N. envoy Mary Robinson’s efforts to help build peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo, argues the Enough Project in a new report [http://www.enoughproject.org/files/MaryRobinsonsNextStepsToEndCongosDeadlyWar.pdf].
Enough Project Congo Researcher and report co-author Fidel Bafilemba said:
International pressure on Rwanda to stop supporting armed groups, and on Congo to enact reforms, helped split M23 and led to Bosco Ntaganda’s surrender to the International Criminal Court. U.N. envoy Mary Robinson can take advantage of this moment and initiate a comprehensive peace process that includes regional negotiations and a Congolese democratic reform process. Civil society must be at the negotiation table this time around.
For too long, the “Three K’s”— Kigali, Kampala, and Kinshasa – have been competing violently in eastern Congo, but the Dodd-Frank legislation on conflict minerals has made it much more difficult to profit from the illicit trade. Now is the time to offer the region a forum to legitimately cooperate on economic and security issues. To provide incentives for the economic talks, the Obama administration should launch a responsible investment initiative with the private sector and NGOs that explores expanded investments in conflict-free natural resources in the region.
Because of its close relationship with, and ability to influence Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda, the U.S. government should play an active role in Congo’s peace process. The report, “Mary Robinson’s Next Steps to Help End Congo’s Deadly War,” offers six recommendations, including that the U.S. rapidly deploy a senior U.S. envoy to support the peace process; sanction key gold smugglers and officials aiding armed groups; provide military advisors to the U.N. Intervention Brigade to combat spoiler armed groups; and support the International Criminal Court to investigate and issue arrest warrants for at-large war criminals in eastern Congo.
Enough Project Co-founder and report co-author John Prendergast said:
One of the most pressing challenges for Special Envoy Robinson and other diplomats will be the construction of a credible process that allows Rwanda, Uganda, and Congo to work together to address the security and economic drivers of violence in eastern Congo. Working together to enhance regional infrastructure, undertake joint economic projects, and create a conflict-free minerals trade will attract foreign investment and allow the regional economic pie to grow larger, thus benefiting everyone. That will be the biggest incentive for peace in the Great Lakes region, and provide the international community with real leverage to end violent conflict there.
The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. To learn more about Enough, go to www.enoughproject.org.
Peace has a better chance to take root in eastern Congo now than at any time since the cycle of conflict began in the early to mid-1990s. This report analyzes the factors that contribute to the unique role the U.N. special envoy Mary Robinson can play in establishing a more comprehensive and inclusive peace process that addresses the core drivers of violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
By Fidel Bafilemba, Sasha Lezhnev, and John Prendergast | May 16, 2013
Darfur is suffering its worst humanitarian crisis in years. Since the beginning of 2013, over 200,000 people have been displaced by what the government of Sudan dismisses as “inter-communal” violence. Ten years after the first reports of genocide trickled out of Darfur, an eerie echo of the past is sweeping across the region. The government of Sudan would like the world to believe that Darfur is plagued by intractable inter-tribal hatreds that inevitably lead to violent destabilizing conflict. But in a new report, “Darfur's Gold Rush: State-Sponsored Atrocities 10 Years After the Genocide,” Enough Project Senior Advisor Omer Ismail and I challenge that descriptive framework. Our research shows that government-armed Abbala militias’ recent power play to displace the Beni Hussein people and thereby gain control North Darfur’s gold mines is not the product of inter-tribal rivalries. Instead, the Abbala offensive must be understood as a continuation of Khartoum’s campaign of state-sponsored atrocity and plunder in the region. Read More »
A new report from the Satellite Sentinel Project, or SSP, confirms that Sudan and South Sudan have violated recent peace agreements by positioning troops in what is supposed to be a 12-mile (20-kilometer) demilitarized buffer zone along their contested border. Neither the joint border-verification mechanism established by both countries, nor the United Nations peacekeeping mission tasked with monitoring the demilitarized buffer zone has detected these violations. Read More »
As we gather to mark April as Genocide Awareness month, to recognize atrocities across the world and throughout history, it's important not just to recognize the past, but to learn from it. Read More »
Rumors circulated last week that the M23 rebel group reportedly signed an agreement with eleven other armed groups on April 21, 2013. The groups are said to include FAP-Nyatura, FDC, FPC-AP, FPD, Mai-Mai Cheka, MPA, M26, PARECO Lafontaine, PRM, URDC, and Vutura. They allegedly agreed on mutual defense – an armed attack against any one of them would be considered an attack against them all – in response to an attack by the forthcoming United Nations Foreign Intervention Brigade, or FIB. Read More »
I learned about the conflict in Congo because Javier Bardem was under the weather. Javier was supposed to join John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project, at a screening of "The Greatest Silence," a film showcasing the use of rape as a weapon of war by militias in Congo, but he was too sick to attend. Read More »
It was a rainy Sunday afternoon in early April when we called "Brigadier General" Sultani Makenga, the military leader of M23, currently one of the strongest armed groups in eastern Congo. Working as field researchers in the Kivus, we wanted to engage with him face-to-face to capture his take on the DR Congo's state of affairs and learn first-hand about the latest developments inside the rebellion. Read More »
After months of deliberations in Kampala, Uganda, the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the M23 rebel group are moving closer toward a deal that would provide amnesty and reintegration for all rebels, no matter the abuses they committed. Read More »
Contact: Jonathan Hutson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Report Confirms Recent Renewal of Sudan’s Support to LRA Leader Joseph Kony
New report uses satellite imagery and testimony from Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) defectors to document the renewal of Sudan’s support to the LRA from 2009 until at least early 2013, and to pinpoint the likely location of rebel leader Joseph Kony’s recent camp in Sudanese-controlled territory
Eyewitnesses testify that elements from Sudan’s military actively provided Kony and other LRA leaders with periodic safe haven in Sudanese-controlled territory from 2009 until at least February 2013
Satellite imagery shows likely location of Kony’s recently abandoned camp
Sudan also provided limited material support to the LRA and has failed to fully cooperate with African Union and United Nations initiatives to arrest Kony
WASHINGTON -- A new report confirms Sudan’s renewal of support to the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group from October 2009 through at least February of 2013. The report includes satellite imagery of a likely LRA encampment in Sudanese-controlled territory where rebel leader Joseph Kony was last sighted in late 2012 and reportedly remained for several more weeks. The imagery indicates the camp was abandoned by March 2013, but Kony reportedly remains nearby in neighboring Central African Republic and could seek to reestablish his presence in Sudanese-controlled territory in coming months.
“As long as Kony is able to find a safe haven in Sudan, he can avoid pursuit by Ugandan forces by simply crossing the border whenever they get close,” said Michael Poffenberger, Executive Director of The Resolve LRA Crisis Initiative and one of the report’s primary authors. “Sudan should not be allowed to harbor one of the most brutal and notorious war criminals in the world with impunity.”
The report, Hidden in Plain Sight: Sudan’s Harboring of the LRA in the Kafia Kingi Enclave, 2009-2013, documents how Kony’s forces first reestablished contact with the Sudanese military in late 2009. LRA fighters then periodically used the area as a safe haven for more than three years, as pursuing Ugandan forces, authorized by the African Union, were not allowed access to the area. Kony himself was first sighted there in 2010 and was reportedly based in the area for significant portions of 2012.
“The LRA’s abandonment of their camp in Sudanese-controlled territory presents an opportunity for Sudan to definitively cut ties to the group,” said Paul Ronan, Director of Policy at The Resolve and another primary author. “International efforts to arrest Kony and stop LRA attacks are likely to fail unless the African Union and regional leaders secure Sudan’s full cooperation.”
The Resolve’s Poffenberger and Ronan co-authored the report, which is co-produced by Invisible Children and the Enough Project.
“Current international efforts to stop LRA violence are making significant gains, but they can only go so far as long as Sudan allows Kony and his fighters safe haven,” said Ben Keesey, CEO of Invisible Children. “If regional and international leaders are serious about ending LRA violence once and for all, they must address this issue with Sudan and seek a solution.”
The safe haven and limited material support Sudan provided to the LRA from 2009-2013 represent the latest upswing in a long history of cooperation between the two actors. Sudan previously provided safe haven, arms, and training to the LRA from 1994 until 2004 before ties were rekindled again in 2009.
“For years, Sudanese support transformed the LRA into a significant threat to civilians and regional stability,” said Mark Quarterman, Research Director of the Enough Project. “At a time when US and regional operations to arrest Kony are more concerted than ever before, renewed support from Sudan seriously undermines these efforts. The Obama administration should work with the African Union and the United Nations to ensure that Khartoum does not provide safe haven or material assistance to the LRA.”
This paper provides the most definitive documentation to date of Sudan’s renewed ties to the LRA. It cites interviews with eight LRA defectors who were eyewitnesses to LRA movements into Sudanese-controlled territory, four of whom provided separate accounts of Kony’s presence and activities there. These testimonies are corroborated by satellite imagery analysis conducted by DigitalGlobe and commissioned by Amnesty International USA, as well as independent reports from government and other sources in the region.
Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, the Enough Project focuses on crises in Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas of Africa affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough’s strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a“3P” crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. Enough works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises. For more information, please visit www.enoughproject.org.