UN urges new effort to wipe out LRA and get Kony
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council urged new efforts Monday to end attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army, release all people abducted by the brutal African rebel group and send its notorious leader Joseph Kony to the International Criminal Court for prosecution for crimes against humanity.
A presidential statement approved by all 15 council members welcomes a recent program toward ending war crimes in central Africa by the rebel group and pledges “to maintain the current momentum until a permanent end to the threat posed by the LRA has been achieved.”
But the council expressed serious concern that the continued instability and security vacuum in the Central African Republic are hampering counter-LRA operations and contributing to the reinforcement of the LRA in the country, which has descended into a state of near-anarchy.
The LRA, which originated in Uganda in the 1980s as a popular tribal uprising against the government, has waged one of Africa’s longest and most brutal rebellions. Its fighters are accused by the U.N. and human rights groups of cutting off the tongues and lips of innocent civilians and kidnapping thousands of children and forcing them to be soldiers and sex slaves.
Military pressure forced the LRA out of Uganda in 2005, and the rebels scattered across parts of central Africa. The LRA insurgency and the Ugandan government’s response have left at least 100,000 people dead. The Security Council said in 2011 that more than 440,000 people across the region had been displaced.
The Security Council took note of reports suggesting the existence of an LRA base in the disputed enclave of Kafia Kinga, on the border of the Central African Republic between Sudan and South Sudan. It also noted reports of suspected LRA attacks and abductions in Western Equatoria in South Sudan and reports of the resumption of LRA activity in the Bas-Uele and Haut-Uele regions in Congo.
The council called on the U.N., African Union and Economic Community of Central African States to continue working together to ensure “a common operating picture of the LRA’s current capabilities and areas of operation.”
The three organizations also should investigate “the LRA’s logistical networks and possible sources of military support and illicit financing, including alleged involvement in elephant poaching and related illicit smuggling,” the council said.
In his recent report to the council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said increased poaching activities have contributed to security concerns in the Central African Republic and the wider region and are used to finance transnational criminal networks and armed rebel groups, including the LRA.
The Security Council also called for joint efforts to promote defections from the LRA, noting reports that small groups of LRA fighters in the Central African Republic are seeking to disarm and surrender.
The council urged all countries to help arrest Kony and two other LRA leaders, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen, so they can face justice at the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and forced enlistment of children.
Last week, the African Union envoy in charge of pursuing the LRA, Francisco Madeira, told reporters that many reports indicate Kony is seriously ill and on the run along the borders of Sudan’s western Darfur region and the Central African Republic.
He said pressure from a regional task force — some 3,000 African troops supported by about 100 U.S. military advisers — has led to “a good number” of defections by Kony’s followers.
The Security Council welcomed the task force’s enhanced operations against LRA camps in recent months “which have increased pressure on the LRA command structure and degraded the LRA’s capabilities.”