Although weakened, LRA is still lethal; report
Posted Tuesday, February 5 2013 at 09:26
Although weakened following defections, capture and the death of several of its commanders, the notorious Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels operating in the central African jungles is still lethal, a new report has warned.
The report by LRA Crisis Tracker project released on Monday said that initiatives by the US military advisers, Ugandan troops and local communities have helped spark a surge of defections from the LRA which is operating in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Central African Republic (CAR).
LRA Crisis Tracker is a joint project developed by Invisible Children and Resolve to collect data surrounding the LRA crisis.
Invisible Children is nongovernmental organization founded to bring awareness to the activities of the LRA while Resolve is an American nongovernmental organization that advocates for an end to atrocities being committed by the LRA.
Military operations led by Ugandan forces authorized by an African Union (AU) mandate have made progress in targeting the LRA' s command structure, highlighted by the capture of Maj. Gen. Caesar Achellam in May 2012 and the killing of Vincent Binany last month.
"In the last nine months, two senior LRA commanders have been captured or killed, and at least 19 Ugandan fighters have left the LRA," said Adam Finck, International Programs Director at Invisible Children.
"Only 150-250 fighters are thought to remain in the LRA, so we are hopeful that this progress will help prevent future attacks on civilians," he added.
The Ugandan military, US military advisers and other civil society organizations in recent months have been broadcasting messages to LRA fighters encouraging them to defect via leaflet drops, FM radio broadcasts, and helicopter-mounted speakers flown over LRA groups.
They have also worked with local leaders in CAR and South Sudan to set up Safe Reporting Sites where LRA members can safely escape.
Eleven Ugandan and 12 non-Ugandan members of the LRA defected to Safe Reporting Sites in CAR in 2012.
The LRA Crisis Tracker project report however cautions that despite increased defections from the LRA, the outfit is still lethal.
It said in 2012, the LRA abducted 517 people and killing 51 others.
The report documented 275 attacks perpetrated by the LRA against civilians in 2012. Sixty nine percent of the attacks were in the first half of the year, a pattern similar to trends in 2010 and 2011.
Such cyclical trends in LRA violence suggest that civilians face an escalated risk of LRA attacks in the first several months of 2013.
"Civilians in CAR and Congo have suffered through a spike in LRA attacks in the first several months of each of the past three years," said Paul Ronan, Director of Policy at The Resolve LRA Crisis Initiative.