WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Lord’s Resistance Army has depopulated a remote corner of northeastern Congo, killing and abducting hundreds of civilians, and forcing tens of thousands to flee their homes.
In a new report, “ ‘This is our land now’: Lord’s Resistance Army attacks in Bas Uele, northeastern Congo,” Enough Project Field Researcher Ledio Cakaj documents 51 attacks by the LRA in Bas Uele, Congo, resulting in at least 105 deaths and 570 abductions during the last 15 months.
“The LRA rampage in Bas Uele territory is brutal but strategic,” notes Cakaj. “LRA fighters have used this region as a base and transit point to the Central African Republic and beyond. The threat to civilians is increasing, since there is no meaningful military force to challenge the LRA in this area. The Congolese army remains a threat to its own population, and the United Nations is drawing down its peacekeepers in this region.”
After signing into U.S. law the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act on May 24, 2010, the Obama administration is developing a comprehensive strategy to deal with the LRA. The report argues that any viable strategy needs to take into account the importance of Bas Uele to the LRA, in order to better protect civilians and finally to end the LRA’s escalating threat across a vast region of central Africa.
The report argues that “attacks in northern Bas Uele are intended to empty the area -- of strategic of importance to the LRA’s cross-border movement to the Central African Republic -- of civilians.”
The new U.S. law requires that the U.S. government develop a multilateral strategy “to protect civilians from the Lord’s Resistance Army, to apprehend or remove Joseph Kony and his top commanders from the battlefield in the continued absence of a negotiated solution, and to disarm and demobilize the remaining Lord’s Resistance Army fighters.” The law also calls for assistance to address the humanitarian needs of victims and to rebuild and rehabilitate communities targeted by the LRA.
The LRA, a stateless terrorist group led by messianic leader Joseph Kony, has killed, mutilated, and displaced civilians across central Africa for more than two decades, abducting thousands of children to turn them into child soldiers.
The LRA began in 1989 as a rebellion based in northern Uganda. The roaming rebel group has morphed into a regional insurgency that terrorizes civilians in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, southern Sudan, and the Central African Republic.
Read the Enough Project report, “ ‘This is our land now’: Lord’s Resistance Army attacks in Bas Uele, northeastern Congo.”
Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, the Enough Project focuses on crises in Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas of Africa affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough’s strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a “3P” crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. Enough works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises. For more information, please visit www.enoughproject.org.