News / Africa

Report: LRA Rebel Defections on the Rise

Photo of five people who escaped the LRA and went to a Safe Reporting Site in the Central African Republic in November 2012.
Photo of five people who escaped the LRA and went to a Safe Reporting Site in the Central African Republic in November 2012.

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
A new report says the Lord’s Resistance Army killed fewer people, launched fewer attacks and had a higher number of defections in 2012 than in recent years.  The LRA Crisis Tracker project monitors the rebels’ activities in central Africa.


The project is a joint effort by the groups Invisible Children and The Resolve.

“Most of the information that we get on LRA activity comes from a network of high-frequency radios that operate in remote towns in Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo, that are operated by local partners, who basically two times a day call in with any information that they have about LRA activity,” said Paul Ronan, director of policy for The Resolve LRA Crisis Initiative.

The report says in the last nine months, two senior LRA commanders were captured or killed and about 20 fighters left the group.

“What we saw was an increase in the number of Ugandan members of the Lord’s Resistance Army who were defecting or escaping from the rebel group. And this is particularly important because Ugandans make up the core of the LRA. And because the LRA no longer operates in Uganda, every time a Ugandan combatant leaves the LRA they’re essentially irreplaceable,” he said.

Ronan said that 15 of the 20 LRA fighters who defected say they saw or heard messages urging them to surrender. Leaflets are dropped over areas where there is suspected LRA activity and messages are broadcast over loudspeakers attached to helicopters. He said the campaign is one of the innovative methods being used by Ugandan troops, U.S. advisors and NGOs.

In the first half of 2012, about 190 LRA attacks were reported in the region. That number fell to 84 in the second half. However, Ronan said that’s not necessarily encouraging news.

“What we’ve seen actually in 2010, 2011 and 2012 – each of the past three years – is that the number of LRA attacks increase significantly in the first half of the year. So, even though we’ve seen a downward trend in the last half of 2012, I think that if we look at these cyclical trends we should be very much concerned about the safety of civilians in the region for the next four or five months,” he said.

The LRA Crisis Tracker report also uncovered another trend.

“The LRA is killing significantly fewer people than it has in the past. In 2010, it killed 706 civilians over the course of the year and that number drops to 154 in 2011 and then just 51 in 2012,” said Ronan.

It’s not that the Lord’s Resistance Army has a new respect for human life. Ronan says when the rebels kill many civilians the international community focuses its attention on them.

The report estimates there are about 150 to 250 LRA fighters distributed among smaller groups in the region. There are up to 400 abductees, mostly women and children, traveling with them. The groups are operating in the northeastern DRC, southeastern Central African Republic and a disputed border region between Sudan and South Sudan near the CAR.

Besides, killings, abductions, rapes and looting, the LRA is now linked to the illegal ivory trade in Garamba National Park in the DRC.

The LRA began some 30 years ago in northern Uganda. Its leader Joseph Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

You May Like

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid