On October 15th, President Barack Obama notified Congress that the US is sending 100 troops into central Africa, into the countries of Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, and South Sudan. The goal of the mission is to assist these countries in their fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army (also referred to as the Lord’s Republican Army), a heinous group that has committed widespread atrocities in the region.
LRA violence has 12,000 dead and have put as many as 300,000 to flight. At one time there were camps for internal refugees all over northern Uganda. The LRA has been charged with seizing children to bolster its ranks of soldiers and with forcing young women into becoming sex slaves.
The LRA was active in northern Uganda until a few years ago. The area around the city of Gulu, for instance, was one of the regions where the group led a campaign of murder, rape, and kidnapping. The LRA has since been expelled from Uganda only to take refuge in neighboring countries.
Joseph Kony, leader of the LRA, is wanted by the International Criminal Court under a 2005 warrant for crimes against humanity in his native Uganda. A self-styled prophet, who Christian mixes mysticism with politics, he is believed hiding along the Sudan-Congo border.
I’ve been to Gulu, Uganda, on three separate occasions. The area was severely impacted by the incursions of the LRA and the subsequent fighting with the Ugandan army. On one occasion, we made a presentation to group of young male adults that had been captured by the LRA and turned into soldiers. This was a reprogramming effort and room where we made our presentation was surrounded by military guards. On another occasion, we visited a Gulu technological school that was working to assist women who had been victimized by the war.
Several Utah groups, including the SEEEME Institute of Logan UT, are currently working to assist several schools and a community in northern Uganda with their recovery.
Over the weekend, Rush Limbaugh stepped into the debate over the troop deployment to central Africa (or just stepped in it). He ran the following headline on his website: “Obama invades Uganda, Targets Christians.” Limbaugh told his listeners:
Lord’s Resistance Army are Christians. They are fighting Muslims in Sudan. And Obama has sent troop, US troops to remove them from the battlefield which means kill them . . .
Limbaugh goes on to further praise the LRA. So here we have the spectacle of an influential right-wing commentator getting in bed with an African terrorist group. Either Limbaugh has gone off the deep end in his hatred for President Obama or his “crack” research team has done him a serious disservice. I suspect both. The entry on Limbaugh website has since been disabled.
I have made 5 trips to Uganda and dearly love the country and its inhabitants. The country is one of the poorest in Africa and needs our assistance in a variety of areas, particularly after the carnage wrought by the LRA. I support Obama’s efforts to put an end to the LRA.