WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Monday signed a law aimed at helping Uganda and its neighbors combat the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group that has brutalized Central Africa for decades.
Obama called the LRA’s actions -- killing, raping, kidnapping children to serve as child soldiers -- “an affront to human dignity” that must be stopped.
The Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009 is designed to provide humanitarian aid to Uganda and neighboring states, to support regional efforts to end the conflict and to bring LRA leaders to justice.
“The legislation crystallizes the commitment of the United States to help bring an end to the brutality and destruction that have been a hallmark of the LRA across several countries for two decades,” he said in a statement.
The Ugandan rebel group has killed and abducted people on a regular basis for the last 23 years, from Uganda, Sudan, Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo, Human Rights Watch noted in a report in March.
The U.N. says the LRA killed more than 1,200 people in a 10-month period throughout 2008 and 2009, while Human Rights Watch said a massacre in the remote northeast killed 321 people in December.
The U.S. military’s African Command (Africom) provides communications, logistical and intelligence support for Uganda’s national army in its pursuit of the LRA.
Reporting by Paul Eckert, editing by Anthony Boadle