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Bosnia backs fight against Lord's Resistance Army in Central African region: envoy


08:55, November 15, 2011

UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- Bosnia and Herzegovina on Monday voiced its support to the regional initiatives undertaken by the United Nations Regional Office on Central Africa (UNOCA) and the African Union (AU) in a bid to prevent regional conflict and curtail the influence of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

The statement came as Ivan Barbalic, the Bosnian permanent representative to the United Nations, was speaking at an open meeting of the UN Security Council on the Central African region.

"UNOCA has an important role to play in assisting the countries of the region to address some of the major challenges to peace and security in this part of Africa and in supporting their effort to consolidate peace and prevent conflict, as well as deal with cross- border challenges such as illicit arms flow, drug trafficking and organized crime," Barbalic said.

The LRA, led by its mercurial and violent commander Joseph Kony, operates across the Central African region in South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Widely known to rape, kill and kidnap civilians, the LRA has long been a destructive and chaotic force in the region. Since its formation in 1987, it has displaced more than 440,000 people across the region, according to a statement issued by the Security Council at the conclusion of Monday's meeting.

But international efforts to defeat the LRA have escalated in recent months, Barbalic noted. In his statement to the council, he praised the formation of a Regional Intervention Force on the LRA that will share information and coordinate efforts to eradicate the army's influence.

The force will collaborate with 100 troops recently deployed by the United States, who will provide information-gathering assistance to regional armies.

"We welcome international efforts in enhancing military capacities of the countries affected by LRA. In that context, we commend the decision of the U.S. government to deploy 100 military personnel to the Central African region," said Barbalic.

But the international community ramps up its military efforts, some countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, are looking to other solutions that aim to break the LRA from the inside. Most notably, disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) programs that provide defectors and other former military personnel with various types of support for reintegration into civilian life are increasingly being seen as effective counter-measures against terrorist organizations.

"Due consideration must be given to effective disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programs for those associated with the LRA," he said. "We believe that efforts aimed at strengthening capacities and extension of state authorities, as well as proactive DDR programs combined with other non-military means would largely contribute to an effective fight against the LRA."

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