TIME Uganda

The Group Behind Kony 2012 Is Shutting Down Most Operations

This picture made available 24 May 2006
This picture, made available 24 May 2006 by the Monitor media group in Kampala, Uganda, shows one of the world's most wanted rebel chiefs, Joseph Kony of the Lord Resistance Movement. STRINGER—AFP/Getty Images

"Despite making incredible progress toward our mission, it’s been difficult to fund the breadth of our work, especially over the last two years"

The non-profit that helped mobilize the international community against a brutal African warlord–or misrepresented and oversimplified a complex issue, depending on your point of view–says it’s packing up.

Invisible Children, founded in 2004 to raise awareness about Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army in central Africa, announced on Monday that it is winding down its U.S. operations and will cut most of its 21-person staff.

In a statement posted to its website, Invisible Children cited a drop in Kony’s influence–though he still leads several hundred fighters–but also indicated it was having trouble fundraising.

“Despite making incredible progress toward our mission, it’s been difficult to fund the breadth of our work, especially over the last two years,” the group said.

In 2012, Invisible Children released an emotional film about Kony that catapulted the organization onto the international stage thanks to the film’s viral effectiveness–and the subsequent criticism of its portrayal of the conflict and the resulting “hashtag activism.”

The film, Kony 2012, was viewed more than 100 million times in less than a week and was called at the time the most viral video in history. It was credited with helping to prompt the U.S. to back an African Union military force charged with hunting down Kony.

But it also faced widespread criticism for its simplistic tone and for exaggerating the threat posed by the LRA, at the expense of other health and social issues. While the LRA had forced thousands of children to become child soldiers over the previous two decades, by the the time the film was released, Kony had been expelled from Uganda and led only a few hundred followers.

The film’s backlash appeared to have hurt the NGO’s fundraising efforts: while Invisible Children raised $26.5 million in 2012, nearly as much as it had raised in the previous three years combined, it collected $4.9 million in 2013, according to its financial reports.

TIME TIME 100 Gala

Sister Rosemary Asks: ‘Where Are the Lost Girls?’

Challenging the world's "most influential" to help heal shattered lives

At the Saint Monica Girls’ Tailoring Center she runs in Gulu, Uganda, Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe looks after women and girls who have seen much of the worst of what the world can dish out, offering a measure of shelter and security in a society riven by civil war.

At the TIME 100 Gala in New York City, she shared her good humor, infectious energy and deep compassion; but she also challenged her fellow “influentials” to join in the effort to heal the lives of women and children traumatized by brutality and fear.

 

TIME Joseph Kony

The Hunt for Ugandan Warlord Joseph Kony Just Got a Lot More Intense

Joseph Kony
Joseph Kony of the Lord's Resistance Army answers journalists' questions in Ri-Kwamba, Sudan, on Nov. 12, 2006 Stuart Price—AFP/Getty Images

President Obama is adding about 150 special-operations personnel and four aircraft to the years-long pursuit of the Lord's Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony, who has avoided detection as his ranks have ravaged large swaths of Central Africa

Military aircraft are for the first time to join an enlarged U.S. special-operations force in Uganda as President Barack Obama ramps up efforts to hunt down notorious warlord Joseph Kony.

CV-22 Osprey aircraft will arrive by midweek, along with refueling aircraft and some 150 Air Force special-operations personnel, according to the Washington Post. A total of 300 U.S. troops will now be stationed in the restive Central African state.

Kony, whose brutal Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has spent years plundering villages, mutilating civilians and kidnapping children across large swaths of Uganda, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Congo, has been indicted by the International Criminal Court.

LRA atrocities publicized on the Internet have sparked waves of revulsion around the world.

[Washington Post]

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