The communities of Zemio and Mboki, in the Central African Republic (CAR) and in northern part of the DR Congo, witnessed a subtle, yet significant, transition towards peace assisted by the collaborative efforts of PAX and APRu, as two factions of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) underwent a Disarmament, Demobilization, Repatriation, Reintegration, and Resettlement (DDRRR) process.
Successful disarmament and repatriation
The LRA, historically, has been a source of violence and anguish, spreading from Uganda to other parts of Africa since the mid-1990’s , leaving a trail of communal and individual traumas in its wake. With an approach rooted in persistence and tactful negotiation, Marianne Moor of PAX and Jean Claude Malitano of APRu navigated through a sea of diplomatic, logistical, and security challenges, culminating in the successful disarmament and repatriation processes in September 2023. This was not an easy process, yet through cohesive efforts, progress was made.
APRu has been working on the promotion of defection of the LRA from the northern part of Congo and received the wife and three children of Commander Doctor Achaye Ali’s LRA faction, demanding PAX and APRu to start a dialogue to explore disarmament and repatriation avenues for the remaining LRA factions in CAR. Eventually, in January 2023, Commander Doctor Achaye Ali signed a declaration in which the two groups asked PAX and APRu to start a dialogue with the involved countries in such a DDRR process. In June 2023, a subsequent tripartite meeting followed in Kampala, involving Uganda, CAR, and DRC governments. A framework for the DDRRR process was crafted, offering an olive branch in the form of intergovernmental support.
Moral and practical challenges
Reintegration of the fighters, many of whom bear the dual status of victim and perpetrator due to their own abductions as child soldiers and subsequent actions, offers a complex moral and practical challenge. Additionally, associated women, having experienced abduction and forced relationships with the fighters, along with their children, will have to navigate a delicately balanced reintegration. Especially because the women have the Central African and Congolese nationality and the majority of the fighters were Ugandan.
In total, 160 people – fighters, associated women, and 87 children – find themselves on a path toward reintegration, steered by the long-lasting efforts of organizations like PAX and APRu. This endeavor represents not just a cessation of violence from these LRA factions, but is an example of the potential for peace and the opportunity for reintegration in the region through dialogue and collective action.