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Thousands Flee From LRA Attacks In DRC


The UN refugee agency says thousands of civilians have fled from fresh attacks by the Ugandan rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army, in Sudan's remote Western Equatoria region, which borders the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. The UNHCR says two people were killed, three injured and 10 girls abducted from a local church.

The UN refugee agency reports the Lord's Resistance Army carried out a series of attacks in this remote Sudanese area. In what has become a usual tactic by the Ugandan rebel group, the LRA reportedly pillaged and torched homes, stole food and looted medical supplies.

UNHCR spokesman, Andrej Mahecic, told VOA the UN was forced to suspend all humanitarian activities in the area on August 13 as a result of the intensifying LRA attacks. He said 29 humanitarian workers, including seven UNHCR staff were evacuated from Ezo by helicopter to Yambio.

"The LRA attacks have triggered widespread panic and fear in the region that borders the DRC and the Central Africa Republic. Many of those on the run are refugees and IDPs, displaced previously by LRA incursions. Local authorities say some 5,000 IDPs from Ezo and the nearby areas have now arrived in Yambio and the surrounding villages, some 160 km south-east of the conflict-hit areas," he said.

The LRA waged a 20-year war against the Ugandan government, saying it wanted to establish a government based on the principles of the 10 commandments. It's terror tactics forced two million people in northern Uganda to flee their homes. It abducted more than 10,000 children, forcing the boys to fight and the girls to become sex slaves.

After the LRA lost its base in Southern Sudan a couple of years ago, the rebels turned the focus of their attacks mainly on the DRC, but increasingly on Sudan and the Central African Republic.

Mahecic said he cannot speculate on the root causes of these attacks, but believes they are launched for material purposes. "They have been very active since last September. More than 1,100 people have been killed since then, mostly in the northeast Democratic Republic of the Congo. But, this is now a group which seems to be run by material interests and they seem to have no problem in launching attacks in this area of Africa where the three countries are bordering," he said.

Since October, the UNHCR reports some 360,000 Congolese have been uprooted in successive LRA attacks in the Orientale province in northeastern DRC. It says some 20,000 others have fled to neighboring Sudan and the CAR.

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