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LRA must be stopped and abductees reintegrated, conference resolves

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05/24/2014 11:04 GMT

23 May 2014 - Seeking to end Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) atrocities, a regional conference that concluded in the Western Equatoria capital Yambio today resolved to call on its combatants to surrender.

Treating those who surrendered well would send a clear message to others still in the bush to hand themselves over, said state Deputy Governor Sapana Abuyi.

The two-day conference on “Civilian protection and reintegration in Lord’s Resistance Army affected areas” was also attended by representatives of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Central African Republic (CAR), African Union Regional Task Force, UNMIS and civil society groups.

Organized by the Western Equatoria Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare, the conference resolved to rehabilitate rescued abductees, providing them with trauma counseling and reintegrating them with their families.

Participants also focused on the need to arrest Joseph Konyi so that he could tell the world about his actions.

“The best solution would be if possible to arrest Konyi alive to be questioned about why he is causing atrocities in four different countries,” Mr. Sapana said.

In opening remarks, Western Equatoria Governor Joseph Bakosoro urged regional governments to unite and defeat the LRA, noting that poor people in rural areas were the ones who were suffering and being killed by the rebel force.

If governments pursued all options, LRA insurgence would end, as Mr. Konyi was less powerful than other international terrorists, Mr. Bakosoro said. He lamented divisions due to political boundaries when it came to security and service delivery to communities.

AU Regional Task Force Commander Brigadier General Sam Kavuma said his force had killed 502 LRA fighters, taken over 500 weapons and rescued more than 800 abductees since the task force was initiated in 2013, despite political challenges in the region.

In addition to those suffering from LRA atrocities, Mr. Kavuma urged governments to protect all civilians, especially those caught in conflicts in South Sudan and CAR.

The LRA entered Western Equatoria in 2006, abducting and killing innocent people and looting properties as well as food. With the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) on its heels, the rebels then crossed into the DRC and CAR, committing the same atrocities.

Joseph Konyi and his commander are wanted by International Criminal Court to answer for crimes against humanity.