Still casting a long shadow across central Africa, the Lord’s Resistance Army is causing enormous suffering for children in the region, according to new UN report.
The new UN report cites that Ugandan rebel group remains among the most persistent perpetrators of grave violations against children.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s first report to the Security Council on the situation of children affected by the LRA reveals grave violations committed against children.
The report shows at least 591 children, including 268 girls, were abducted and recruited by the LRA, mostly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), but also in the Central African Republic (CAR), and in South Sudan.
According Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy, there are six grave violations against children committed by LRA: recruitment and use of child soldiers; killing and maiming; sexual violence; denial of humanitarian access; abduction; and attacks on schools and hospitals.
Ms. Coomaraswamy said that due to protection activities and the military operations carried out in the affected areas, the LRA is weakened, but it continues to be able to make random attacks.
In the DRC, a trend appeared in 2010, and was more apparent in 2011, of children being abducted for very short periods to carry loot before they managed to escape or were left behind.
All girls mentioned in the report were forcibly married to combatants.
The Special Representative noted that the number of children killed and maimed appears to have declined since 2008, perhaps due to increased protection efforts by UN peacekeepers, the massive displacement of civilians fleeing the LRA threat, and the presence of security forces in the LRA’s area of operations.
On April this year, Lord’s Resistance Army’s (LRA) attack is on the rise in central Africa, leading to the displacement of thousands of people.
Reports say the attacks have taken place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan.
According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) 13 attacks in the DRC were recorded which resulted in two killings and 13 abductions, and the displacement of 1,230 people mostly from the Dungu territory in the country’s north-east.
In CAR, LRA attacks have resumed after a lull since April 2011 with 11 attacks recorded this year.
In addition, the LRA has also conducted attacks in South Sudan, which last year led to 7,382 people fleeing their homes.
LRA-related violence is seriously hampering humanitarian work in the province. According to UN data some 2,000 people have been killed and 2,500 abducted, including 892 children, in attacks against civilians in villages and towns across the Orientale province since December 2007.
Those abducted are used as porters, forced to work in the fields or use as sex slaves or new recruits. Attacks are often accompanied by extreme cruelty, including murder, mutilation, or amputation of the lips and ears – apparently aimed at terrorizing people with a view to displacing entire populations. Trauma lasting months or years is common among those who have fled.
The LRA was formed in the 1980s in Uganda and for over 15 years its attacks were mainly directed against Ugandan civilians and security forces, which in 2002 dislodged the rebels.
The LRA, a brutal rebel group responsible for Africa’s longest-running armed conflict, has been murdering and mutilating innocent civilians across four countries. Kony uses fear and psychological manipulation to control his forces, which are primarily made up of kidnapped children who are forced to fight his illogical war.
This humanitarian crisis has been occurring for over two decades, but credible data about the scope and even the location of the LRA’s violence has been difficult to attain because of the remoteness of the territories in which they operate. The LRA attacks and loots villages that are disconnected from outside communications and are unable to even send warning to neighboring villages just a few kilometers away. The difficulty in collecting, verifying and compiling credible information on the LRA has led to many of the mis-statements made recently about the President’s big announcement.
The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and its self-appointed messiah, Joseph Kony, have been terrorizing Central Africa for 25 years, with up to 80 percent of attacks going unreported – until now.