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Joseph Kony leads the guerilla group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), infamous for brutally abducting children and forcing them to serve as soldiers, porters, and sex slaves. The International Criminal Court is seeking his arrest, as well as three of his senior commanders.
More than 3.5 million people in an estimated 200 countries have pledged to expose Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony by making his name and crimes known on April 20.
They plan to participate in the “Cover the Night” campaign, coordinated by the organization Invisible Children. The campaign seeks to blanket cities around the world with Kony’s image, using posters and fliers.
Kony leads a guerilla group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), infamous for brutally abducting children and forcing them to serve as soldiers, porters, and sex slaves.
Currently, the International Criminal Court (ICC), based in The Hague, is seeking the arrest of eight suspects around the world to face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Four of them are senior commanders of the LRA.
The four LRA senior commanders are:
1. Joseph Kony: Alleged Commander-in-Chief of the LRA
Kony is wanted for crimes against humanity and war crimes, including: murder, sexual enslavement, rape, inhumane acts of inflicting serious bodily injury and suffering, directing an attack against a civilian population, pillaging, inducing rape, and forced enlistment of children.
2. Vincent Otti: Alleged Vice-Chairman and Second-in-Command of the LRA
Otti is wanted for crimes against humanity and war crimes, including: murder, sexual enslavement, inducing rape, forced enlistment of children, cruel treatment of civilians, and pillaging.
3. Okot Odhiambo: Alleged Deputy Army Commander of the LRA
Odhiambo is wanted for crimes against humanity and war crimes, including: murder, enslavement, intentionally directing an attack on a civilian population, pillaging, and forced enlistment of children.
4. Dominic Ongwen: Alleged Brigade Commander of the LRA
Ongwen is wanted for crimes against humanity and war crimes, including: murder, enslavement, inhumane acts of inflicting serious bodily injury and suffering, cruel treatment of civilians, intentionally directing an attack against a civilian population, and pillaging.
Popular support for the “Cover the Night” campaign was generated by “Kony 2012,” an online video released in March that draws attention to Kony’s crimes. It was viewed more than 50 million times in less than a week.
The sudden popularity of the film generated an almost equally strong backlash. Critics complained that Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army was a spent force and no longer active in northern Uganda, as they argue the film implies. But Melissa Fleming, spokesperson for the UN refugee agency, says that the LRA is still a force to be reckoned with.
The LRA continues to cause mayhem in remote areas of the Central African Republic, Sudan, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Invisible Children says that since the release of “Kony 2012” last month, the LRA has abducted more than 50 children. Meanwhile, the United Nations says LRA violence caused the displacement of 466,000 people last year alone.
Betsy Baldwin, a World Vision program manager based in Washington, D.C., met some of the displaced during a visit to Yambio, South Sudan, in early February. She says many have no intention of returning home anytime soon, particularly refugees from Congo.
“The fear factor of the [LRA] atrocities is still exceptionally real,” she says. She added that the only defense many Congolese communities had against LRA attacks was from boys hiding in treetops armed with bows and arrows.
World Vision is assisting the displaced around Yambio with food, medicine, and schooling for children.
While the LRA no longer operates in northern Uganda, invisible killers continue to stalk children in the region — and these killers have a far greater reach than the LRA ever did. Read about “Killers beyond Kony” on the World Vision Blog.
Thank God for the peace that has finally come for the children and families in northern Uganda. Pray for them as they continue the long process of rebuilding their communities. Pray for children and families who continue to be terrorized by the LRA, and pray that the LRA leaders would be brought to justice.
Sponsor a child in Uganda. The LRA is no longer active in northern Uganda, but children are still threatened by killers like malnutrition and preventable diseases. Sponsorship helps provide these children with essentials for the present and stability for the long term, giving a boy or girl in need the foundation for a healthy future of dignity, hope, and independence.