Over the past two years, COOPI’s field work in Central Africa has witnessed a resurgence of attacks on civilians by armed groups of the LRA (Lord Resistance Army).
There are 6,860 direct beneficiaries of COOPI which focus on the civilian population affected directly or indirectly by the LRA in the areas of Obo and Zemio, two sub-prefectures which are particularly isolated and therefore more prone to the crisis that has raged through the country.
In particular, due to infant and female victims of violence, the areas have been identified as a priority of concern for the protection of women and children. Violations of humanitarian rights are experienced daily as well as sexual violence and the exploitation of children.
On the one hand, through a training and awareness program applied at a community level, we have been able to identify and take care of the children who have been victims of violence of the armed group LRA. We have identified, trained and prepared temporary foster families for minors who have escaped armed groups and have provided ongoing support to the association A.F.A.S.V.E.R. (Association of foster families for victims of the LRA), which was created in 2011. Additionally, the child victims of the LRA have been directly involved in the activities of the training and formation program. For the preparation of action plans, in case of risk or danger, eight ‘clubs d’enfance’ have been created. Finally, the victims’ families have been searched for and 50 families have been able to reunite.
On the other hand, we have acted on behalf of female victims of violence using an integrated program for psychological rehabilitation and socio-economic reintegration. Whilst psychological training is given to the project leaders and operators, six counselling centres and two mobile teams have been established not only to provide psychological support to the victims but also in order to report them and their conditions to the operating medical facilities in the area. Seven hundred women have joined a program of psychological support which provides individual counselling sessions, the possibility to create or join self-help groups as well as the support of family mediation.
At a community level, we have launched a campaign not only to raise awareness regarding human and children’s rights but also in regard to gender violence and the resolution of intra-community conflicts, thereby developing adequate mechanisms for the protection of the community.