SAN DIEGO, Oct. 18, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- President Obama's announcement Friday to deploy approximately 100 advisory troops to Uganda has erupted in confusion and false statements. The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and its self-appointed messiah, Joseph Kony, have been terrorizing Central Africa for 25 years, with up to 80 percent of attacks going unreported - until now.
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The LRA, a brutal rebel group responsible for Africa's longest-running armed conflict, has been murdering and mutilating innocent civilians across four countries. Kony uses fear and psychological manipulation to control his forces, which are primarily made up of kidnapped children who are forced to fight his illogical war.
This humanitarian crisis has been occurring for over two decades, but credible data about the scope and even the location of the LRA's violence has been difficult to attain because of the remoteness of the territories in which they operate. The LRA attacks and loots villages that are disconnected from outside communications and are unable to even send warning to neighboring villages just a few kilometers away. The difficulty in collecting, verifying and compiling credible information on the LRA has led to many of the mis-statements made recently about the President's big announcement.
To combat the hidden nature of this conflict, a nonprofit group called Invisible Children was formed in 2003 with the purpose of exposing the atrocities of the LRA and supporting the apprehension of Joseph Kony.
And just a few weeks ago, Invisible Children, in partnership with political advocacy group Resolve, announced the launch of the LRA Crisis Tracker – a groundbreaking crisis-mapping platform that broadcasts attacks perpetrated by the LRA. The LRA Crisis Tracker is now the most comprehensive and credible source of information on the recent activities of the LRA.
That information can be found here: http://www.lracrisistracker.com/
"The LRA Crisis Tracker allows for the LRA's atrocities to be viewed in near-real time, something that has never before been possible," said Adam Finck, Invisible Children's Director of Programs.
Gathering reports of attacks from a local early-warning radio network supported by Invisible Children, in addition to data sourced from the United Nations, local Non-Government Organizations, and first-hand research, the project immediately becomes the most accurate source of public information on the LRA in existence, resulting in improved efforts to combat LRA atrocities and help communities in need.
"Not only is this a pioneering tool for activists and policymakers, but community-run protection organizations in Central Africa will directly benefit from regular reports analyzing LRA movement and attack patterns. The response time to LRA atrocities should be three hours, not three months," said Michael Poffenberger, Executive Director of Resolve.
The LRA Crisis Tracker was developed in partnership with award-winning marketing and technology agency Digitaria. The result is a tool that combines empirical data with storytelling, visually-engaging data representation, and narrative-rich media.
"Technology is a game-changer in the battle to bring justice to war criminals," said Ben Keesey, Executive Director of Invisible Children. "It levels the playing field by empowering the individual, and Invisible Children and Resolve will continue to pursue these technological developments toward greater civilian protection and lasting peace."
Over the past five years, hundreds of thousands of young Americans have rallied alongside Invisible Children and Resolve asking the government to take greater action against the LRA, which resulted in 2010's LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act. The bill was passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support last year by both the House and Senate and is the most widely supported African-issue legislation in modern American history.
The bill mandated that President Obama develop a comprehensive strategy to stop the LRA violence, which has been thoughtfully crafted for the past year and a half. Military deployment to the region is just the next major piece in their comprehensive plan to support the disarming of the LRA and stopping its 25-year-long reign of terror and destabilization in the region, and Invisible Children whole-heartedly applauds the administration for taking this step.
"Invisible Children strongly supports President Obama's commitment to send around 100 military personnel to help stop LRA violence in Central Africa and continue the bi-partisan effort to remove violent cult leader Joseph Kony from the battlefield. There is not a single circumstance on the planet today that more clearly warrants international military support on humanitarian grounds than that of Joseph Kony and the LRA," concludes Keesey.
SOURCE Invisible Children