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Tens of thousands of people will remain without life-saving aid unless the UN mission in DR Congo steps up its presence in areas brutalized by the Lords Resistance Army (LRA). The horrific experiences of the communities in the Great Lakes directly affected by the LRA demand that the UN bear three harsh realities in mind:

1. The Lord’s Resistance Army is a regional problem, requiring a concerted regional and international response.

2. The problem is not going to go away: a failure to direct efforts and resources towards it now will only increase the scale of the human catastrophe to be addressed later.

3. Current efforts are ineffective at protecting civilians and can even inadvertently put civilians at greater risk: the protection of the civilians caught up in this crisis cannot be left to chance – or to the communities themselves.

That the US government, the World Bank, the UN, AU and EU have recently moved the issue of the LRA higher up their respective agendas is potentially good news for the many LRA-affected communities. Turning that potential into reality, however, is going to take considerably greater political will, coordination and far-sightedness than has so far characterised the international and regional response to the LRA.

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