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Senators Coons and Landrieu: Remaining Engaged After the (Kony 2012)Viral Video |
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By Senators Chris Coons and Mary LandrieuFor some, it was easy to dismiss the effect a viral video could have on the effort to stop crimesagainst humanity being committed in central Africa. After all, what possible influence could tensof millions of young people in the West have on a conflict half a world away?When the African Union announced it was supporting and strengthening a force of 5,000regional soldiers combatting the Lord's Resistance Army just two weeks later " explicitly citingnew global engagement on the issue " the world got its answer.If nothing else, opening our children's hearts and minds to a faraway humanitarian issue hasbeen the great success of the "Kony 2012" movement, which this past weekend mobilizedoffline with grass-roots activities in communities around the world.As parents, it's remarkable to see our own children so passionate about the issue.As Senators who have been deeply engaged in the challenges of central Africa for many years,we can say that the engagement of so many Americans, especially young Americans,supporting the U.S. mission to aid in the capture of LRA leader Joseph Kony and his toplieutenants has never been stronger.Letters and emails have poured into Washington from students from around the country, eachbearing the same message our own children delivered to us: Kony and the LRA must bestopped and brought to justice.Congress has received that message. The engagement of the past few weeks is helping tofocus and strengthen the work of a broad bipartisan coalition on Capitol Hill that is committedto finishing the job.The facts are clear. Kony and his band of criminals have cut a path of destruction throughcentral Africa for more than 25 years. The LRA has kidnapped tens of thousands of children,turning the boys into soldiers and the girls into sex slaves. The vicious nature of the LRA'scrimes and the youth of many of its victims have left scars that are tough to heal. Today, Konyand his top lieutenants are on the run and the United States is working closely with regionalmilitaries to "remove them from the battlefield."Since 2010, it has been U.S. policy to work with governments in the region to stop the LRA andhelp central Africa recover from its destruction. With bipartisan Congressional support,President Barack Obama enhanced that commitment by sending 100 military advisers toprovide training, technical support and strategic counsel to regional militaries attempting to killor capture Kony and his commanders. The administration also increased efforts to providehumanitarian assistance to LRA-affected communities and early warning systems to vulnerablepopulations.Congress' strong bipartisan support for Kony's capture and investment in Africa is nothing new,but it's important to keep the pressure on. Last month, we introduced a Senate resolution withmore than 40 co-sponsors " nearly half the Senate, both Republicans and Democrats " to