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UN, AU to Seek Increased Funds to Counter Ugandan Rebels

Fighters loyal to the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) with their rifles inside the forest near River Mbou in the Central African Republic in this handout picture dated April 4, 2012
The United Nations and the African Union plan to seek increased funding early next year to implement a strategy to combat the rebel Lord's Resistance Army, which continues to carry out attacks in Central Africa.

Abou Moussa, head of the U.N. Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), told the Security Council Tuesday that peace and security in the region have improved. But he says violence by armed groups such as the LRA continues, as his office tries to follow the multi-step strategy approved by the council in June.

"The challenges of doing so are numerous, however perhaps the most urgent step revolves around the need to promptly finalize the LRA programmatic document and mobilize sufficient resources for its full implementation," he said.

Humanitarian and rights groups have criticized what they say is slow progress in putting the U.N. plan into effect.

The United States says it fully supports the strategy, but is calling on the United Nations to play a "critical role" in increasing protections for civilians. U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the U.N. Jeffrey DeLaurentis also said Tuesday that eliminating the LRA requires "unwavering resolve" from countries in the region.

The LRA, once based in northern Uganda, is accused of killing, kidnapping and mutilating tens of thousands of people across Central Africa over the past 25 years. Its leader, Joseph Kony, is wanted by the International Criminal Court.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said in a report to the council Tuesday that the LRA remained active this year in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Britain's deputy representative to the U.N., Philip Parham, stresses the need for further progress in political, development, humanitarian and peacekeeping matters in the region, but says an end to the LRA threat "is in sight."

"The concerted efforts of the affected countries, the African Union, the United Nations and other partners have substantially weakened the LRA," said Parham. "Permanent eradication of the threat they pose is now within our reach. But that can only be achieved through sustained focus and by creating and consolidating security and stability in the affected countries."

Parham also says it necessary prioritize key actions in the plan and to tell donors which pieces remain under funded.