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CIAO Focus, December 2011: Central Africa and the Lord's Resistance Army

After more than two decades, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) continues to terrorize much of central Africa, abducting, raping and killing civilians at will.  The Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic have all reported upticks in the number of attacks perpetrated by the LRA in recent months.  According to the UN-based Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there have been 240 reported attacks in the three countries this year resulting in 130 deaths and 327 abductions (including 113 children).

The LRA insurgency was launched in 1987 in the wake of several anti-government protest movements following the overthrow of Tito Okello, an ethnic Acholi from northern Uganda.  Joseph Kony formed the LRA to represent the Acholi people who felt excluded from the new government now led by Yoweri Museveni. Kony is a self-styled prophet who vows to topple the current regime and establish a new state based on the Biblical Ten Commandments and Acholi traditions.  Paradoxically, the LRA rarely attacks government targets but has more often focused its brutality on fellow ethnic Acholis.  Kony and his rebel followers are wanted in connection with committing crimes against humanity including mass murder, torture and the kidnapping of children who are forced to work as sex slaves, soldiers and laborers.  In northern Uganda alone, before the conflict spilled over into neighboring countries, it is estimated that more than 2 million people were displaced as a result of the insurgency. 

U.S. president Barack Obama recently ordered the deployment of 100 combat-equipped troops and four small drone surveillance systems to Uganda to help defeat the LRA.  The Department of Defense stated that the troops will primarily play an advisory role to the Ugandan military but are authorized to use force to defend themselves if need be.   Most of them will be stationed in Uganda but some will be deployed to "field" locations such as the Central African Republic, Congo and South Sudan where the LRA has been active.

Robert Sedgwick
Editor, CIAO


From the CIAO Database:

The Lord's Resistance Army: End Game?

Countering the Lord's Resistance Army in Central Africa

From Uganda to the Congo and Beyond: Pursuing the Lord's Resistance Army

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Protecting Civilians from the LRA

Uganda/Lord's Resistance Army Peace Negotiations


Outside Sources: *

Times Topics: Lord’s Resistance Army (New York Times)

LRA Regional Update: DRC, CAR and South Sudan: June-August 2011 (OCHA)

Background: the Lord's Resistance Army (The Guardian)

Ending the Lord’s Resistance Army (Enough Project) the Lord's Resistance Army.pdf

Inside the LRA-Uganda (video)

Lord's Resistance Army update (Human Security Baseline Assessment)

* Outside links are not maintained. For broken outside links, CIAO recommends the Way Back Machine.