Higlighting that the African region is making progress in addressing the Lord’s Resistance Army threats, the United States of America today reported that defections are on the rise among the notorious and dangerous group in the region.
In his remarks in an event hosted by Invisible Children, Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson for the Bureau of African Affairs reiterated President Obama’s statement that LRA’s actions are an affront to human dignity.
“Those abducted must be freed, those wounded must heal, and those responsible must be brought to justice.” – Mr. Carson
He says over the last several years, the people and governments of Uganda, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan have worked to bring an end to the threat posed by the LRA.
In coordination with the African Union, the United Nations, and other international partners, the United States has provided cross-cutting support to these regional efforts, Mr. Carson stressed.
Despite enormous challenges, the region is making progress in addressing this threat, Mr. Carson cited.
There has not been a reported LRA attack in South Sudan for over a year, he added.
He reports that in May, the Ugandan military captured LRA senior commander Ceasar Acellam, long considered one of the LRA’s top five commanders.
“The LRA has been weakened and pushed out of many areas. Hundreds of abductees have been rescued.” – Mr. Carson
In August, the Ugandan military attacked the group led by senior LRA commander Dominic Ongwen, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court, and seized their campsite.
According to Mr. Carson, defections are also on the rise.
He reports that since Acellam’s capture, several mid-level officers have left the group.
In October this year, more than 19 people have defected or escaped from the LRA.
Just recently, the US is working with a range of partners in the region, including Invisible Children, to airdrop more leaflets, expand radio broadcasts, and establish safe reporting sites to encourage the remaining LRA to peacefully surrender from the group.
However, Mr. Carson pointed out that this is not to suggest that the situation is resolved or that Joseph Kony will be apprehended tomorrow.
“Communities remain vulnerable, the top fugitives remain at large, and the LRA continues to have a significant physical and psychological impact across multiple countries.” – Mr.Carson
He emphasizes that ending the LRA threat will require more effort, more time, and even a little bit of luck.
However, Mr. Carson stresses that the international community has come a long way over the last several years and with the support of international partners, the AU, UN, and NGOs, the region is moving closer to turning the page on this tragic chapter.
Achieving that ultimate goal of ending the LRA threat and establishing security will require the sustained resolve and collaboration of all those involved, beginning first and foremost with the governments in the region, Mr. Carson highlighted.
“As we move forward, we must continue to strengthen this coalition and to grow it by reaching out to new groups and forging new partnerships.” – Mr. Carson
In May this year, senior commander of the brutal Lord’s Resistant Army (LRA) was captured by the Ugandan government.
Ugandan authorities announced that the country’s army had captured Caesar Acellam Otto, one of LRA’s top military leaders in the Central African Republic (CAR). Mr. Acellam is reportedly responsible for some of the most egregious abuses against children.
Mr. Acellam was seized along with his wife and child, as well as a 12-year-old girl from CAR, whose status in his family remains unclear. The family is currently in Ugandan custody in neighbouring South Sudan, while the 12-year old girl is in CAR.
The UN believes that the arrest and subsequent prosecution of Acellam would send a strong message to the LRA leadership that they will be held accountable for their actions.
Uganda’s existing Amnesty Act provides blanket amnesty for LRA members, including for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and gross violations of human rights.
In April this year the UN reported that Lord’s Resistance Army’s (LRA) attack is on the rise in central Africa, leading to the displacement of thousands of people.
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 used 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.