The newest fad in humanitarian aid these days is KONY 2012. This was a video made by Invisible Children, Inc. with the purpose of highlighting war criminal Joseph Kony. Kony is the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda whose numbers were full of child soldiers. The film went viral with a YouTube video that has over 88 million views. The film was especially popular with the youth of the country. People who support this and get involved have good intentions; however, upon further review the organization is not a worthwhile venture.
First, let’s look at the focus of the video, war criminal Joseph Kony. Money collected by the organization goes to government to help them hunt down Kony. The problem is that Kony is not the threat he was six years ago. The Ugandan government was actually successful in chasing Kony and the LRA out of the country. They are most likely stationed in the Central African Republic. The strength of the LRA had also been severely diminished. Recent reports indicate that the forces consist of around 200 to 250 people. Most of the people consist of abducted children and not actual adult soldiers. The film also calls for U.S. intervention in the conflict, which is totally unnecessary because as stated before the Ugandan government already has handled it. The LRA does not pose a great threat to anyone in Africa right now.
Second, Invisible Children’s priorities are skewed. A major point of the organization is to fight the use of child soldiers. This is an admirable cause, but the video does not seem to concentrate on this. Capturing Kony seems to be the focus of the video, instead of helping the children. Child soldiers are a real problem and there should be programs to help rehabilitate them. The video has you believe that capturing Kony would end the problem of child soldiers in Uganda. A showing of the video was actually booed in the city of Lira; a site of one of Kony’s most brutal attacks. They complained that the video only focused on Kony and that it argued for foreign intervention by U.S. troops. I share the same sentiments. Kony is an evil man but is no longer a problem and there are many others out there committing the same atrocites and with larger numbers. A U.S. intervention is especially un-needed in this day and age. We are still involved in a war and should not be getting the country involved in foreign crisises unless it is necessary. This would be unnesscesary. Instead of merely focusing on Kony, Invisible Children should be focusing on child soldiers in Unganda.
Third, there is a problem of where the money actually goes. 38% of funds received actually go to direct aid. The rest goes to raising awareness and paying employees. I am not accusing the people of invisible children of actively scamming people, just poor management. Does so much of the money being raised have to go to just raising awareness? I understand getting the word out, but it already has gotten out with the YouTube video. Also being aware is not enough. There must be action after awareness has been raised. It seems Invisible Children is raising awareness just to raise more awareness. This is fine but real action must follow this.
I am not in conspiracy theories, but the fact that oil reserves were found in Uganda recently draws suspicion on why this has such a great spotlight. I am not writing that Invisible Children is actually a ploy to get oil. It is that it has gotten traction in the national media because Uganda has been thrust into the global importance. Certain people may prompt KONY 2012 in order to gain favor with the Ugandans and give ourselves a presence in the area. Invisible Children is not concerned with the discovery of oil, but certain powerful individuals definitely are.
I am not fully against KONY 2012. It is horrible that even some child soldiers are being used by the LRA, but this is not unique to LRA. They are used in war zones throughout the world. From Mexico to Indonesia rebel forces and governments alike are using child soldiers. There are more pressing problems then Joseph Kony. Such as President Omar al-Bashir committing atrocities in the Sudan region of Darfur. This is a real genocide that is currently being enacted. There is also the unrest in Syria where the government is slaughtering its own citizens. There is a chocolate slave ring made up of primarily children in West Africa. All of these problems are more pressing then Joseph Kony and his weakened LRA. It is great to get involved but you should realize what you are getting involved in first.
Jack Barnett is a third-year student majoring in history and political science. He can be reached at JB723722@wcupa.edu.

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