The press conference at the United Nations Security Council is fast approaching, and we are so happy to say that two local leaders from northeastern DR Congo will be there. They arrived in DC yesterday, and over the next couple of weeks they will be speaking in front of some of the most influential governing bodies in the world on behalf of the remote communities in Central Africa that continue to be targeted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
Father Benoit (whom you might recognize from KONY 2012: Part II – Beyond Famous or one of our videos about his Early Warning Radio Network) and Sister Angelique both do remarkable work in their communities, protecting civilians and helping rehabilitate those who have escaped from the LRA. I copied their bios below so that you could get a glimpse of the experience and knowledge they bring with them. Our advocacy partner, Resolve, is hosting the two delegates on their three-week advocacy tour.
Tomorrow (Tuesday) they will testify at a Congressional hearing and next week they will deliver your 3.5 million pledge signatures to the United Nations Security Council. The week after that, they will head to Europe for a series of policy meetings.
They have quite the trip ahead of them, and we will be posting updates as we get them. This is a momentous week.
Father Benoit Kinalegu
Father Benoit Kinalegu is a Congolese priest and the President of the Dungu-Doruma Diocesan Commission for Justice and Peace (CDJP). Based in the town of Dungu in Haut-Uele district, Democratic Republic of Congo, Father Kinalegu and the CDJP have played a leading role in documenting LRA rebel violence, mobilizing local civil society voices in both Congo and the broader LRA-affected region, and influencing the responses of the Congolese government and international community to the crisis.
The CDJP has produced its own first-hand accounts of human rights abuses committed by the LRA and has contributed directly to research by international human rights organizations. In addition, Father Kinalegu and the CDJP have helped mobilize local civil society groups from other LRA-affected countries to participate in regional peace-building activities. These efforts have allowed civil society leaders to share experiences of LRA violence, engage in cross-border dialogue on local community responses, and make recommendations to regional and international policymakers on how to end the conflict.
Sister Angelique Namaika
Sister Angelique runs Dynamic Women for Peace (DWP), in Dungu, Democratic Republic of Congo. Since 2008, she has been helping young girls recover from the trauma of being abducted by the LRA. DWP promotes reintegration and reconciliation by encouraging communities to welcome the return of escapees. It also provides a wide range of vocational training programs and income-generation activities to promote their economic and social reintegration. Sister Angelique also oversees a micro-credit program that helps graduates of the vocational training courses start small businessesand runs basic literacy classes in the Lingala, the local language. .
Sister Angelique has been a prominent voice advocating for victims of LRA violence in DR Congo and across the region. She has worked in coalition with UNHCR and others and has been profiled on the UNHCR website.