The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Wednesday strongly condemned the ongoing attacks and atrocities carried out by the armed group known as the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and urged that the United Nations regional strategy designed to tackle the threat be carried out as soon as possible.
"The Council demands an immediate end to all attacks by the LRA, particularly those on civilians, urges LRA leaders to release all those abducted, and insists that all LRA elements put an end to such practices, and disarm and demobilise," the 15-member body said a presidential statement.
The regional strategy, which was endorsed by the Council in June, focuses on five key strategic objectives to address the threat posed by the LRA - the Ugandan rebel group notorious for carrying out massacres in villages, mutilating its victims and abducting boys for use as child soldiers, while girls are often forced into sexual slavery.
The Council has urged swift implementation of the strategy's objectives. These include support for the full operationalization and implementation of the African Union (AU) regional cooperation initiative against the LRA; enhancing efforts to promote the protection of civilians; and expanding current disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration activities to cover all LRA-affected areas.
The other objectives are to promote a coordinated humanitarian and child protection response in these areas, and to support LRA-affected governments in the fields of peacebuilding, human rights, rule of law and development, to enable them to establish State authority across their territories.
In its presidential statement Wednesday, the Council urged the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), the UN political and peacekeeping missions in the region and other relevant UN presences to coordinate their efforts in support of the implementation of the strategy, and called on the international community to provide assistance "as possible" to advance these goals.
Furthermore, the Secretary-General was requested to present to the Council a prioritised and sequenced implementation plan to support the strategy no later than Feb 28, 2013, based on a clear division of labour between all parts of the international system as well as UN organizations.
Tuesday, the Secretary-General's Special Representative and head of UNOCA, Abou Moussa, told the Council that the UN and the AU will seek increased funding early next year for the strategy
"The most urgent step revolves around the need to promptly finalize the LRA programmatic document and mobilize sufficient resources for its full implementation," he said.
He added that once the programmatic document is finalized, his office, in partnership with the office of the AU Special Envoy on the LRA, Francisco Madeira, plans to organize a resource mobilization forum early next year with the aim of raising funds for the most critical areas of the strategy.
The LRA was formed in the 1980s in Uganda and for over 15 years its attacks were mainly directed against Ugandan civilians and security forces, which in 2002 dislodged the rebels. They then exported their activities to Uganda's neighbours, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic and South Sudan.
The Council welcomed the "significant" increase in individuals escaping or defecting from the LRA over recent months, and strongly supported ongoing efforts to promote defections through the distribution of leaflets, targeted radio broadcasts, and the establishment of safe reporting sites.
In addition, it called for the remaining LRA fighters to leave the group's ranks and participate in a disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration process.