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

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs