News / Africa

Ugandan Rebel Group Remains a Mystery 20 Years On

FILE - Congolese soldiers from the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo [FARDC] launch missiles during their military operation against Ugandan Islamist group, Allied Democratic Forces, outside Beni, in North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of Congo, January 2014.
FILE - Congolese soldiers from the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo [FARDC] launch missiles during their military operation against Ugandan Islamist group, Allied Democratic Forces, outside Beni, in North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of Congo, January 2014.
Nick Long

This week a U.N. Security Council committee placed sanctions on a Ugandan Islamist group, the Allied Democratic Forces, for using child soldiers, killing and abusing women and children, and attacks on U.N. peacekeepers. Council diplomats say the group, which has been operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo, will now be subject to travel bans and asset freezes.

The Allied Democratic Forces is one of the oldest armed groups in eastern Congo, but it is also one of the most mysterious.  The ADF originated as a coalition of groups in western Uganda who found themselves marginalized after the fall of the late president Idi Amin.

In the early 1990s they regrouped inside Congo, in the territory of Beni, where they forged alliances with powerful individuals from the Nande community and made money from timber and gold.

ADF's various links

The Ugandan government has alleged that ADF has support from Sudan, an assertion backed up by Western diplomatic sources. It also says the ADF has links with Somalia’s al-Shabab, although some analysts contest this.

Analysts agree the group has a bad human rights record. Residents of Beni are calling for an investigation of mass graves that were found near some former ADF camps to see if people the group kidnapped were buried there.

"The ADF is particularly known for its kidnapping campaigns," said Timo Mueller, who studies armed groups in eastern Congo for the U.S.-based Enough project. "They kidnapped people -- children, as well as elderly people -- in 2013. Unfortunately, this did not evoke the same kind of international outrage that another rebel group in Nigeria, Boko Haram, caused."

Hardly any of the kidnap victims have been found, and very few of the estimated 800 to 1,200 ADF fighters have deserted or been captured. Mueller suggested they differ somewhat from Congo’s other armed groups.

"Unfortunately few people have direct insights into the group’s dynamics, but what is known is that this group is Islamic in nature - fundamentalist in nature," he said. "There’s a strong ideology and also coercion and a control system inside the group."

Intensified operations

In the past six months the Congolese army, or FARDC, has stepped up operations against the group, and both sides have taken significant casualties.

"The FARDC did secure most of the group’s former strongholds, but the problem is that the ADF has not been neutralized yet," said Mueller. "Rather, the problem has been displaced elsewhere, namely to the Orientale province, north of their former strongholds, so the FARDC, together with the U.N. peacekeeping mission need to keep up the pressure on the ADF, not just militarily but also economically."

Mueller believes the U.N. sanctions will help to weaken the group, but says other actions will be needed.

"I think overall sanctions against the rebel leaders, or against the rebel group as such, are important but they are not sufficient. They do have an effect," he said. "There are travel bans in place, limitations against their financial transactions, cutting off their revenues, not all of them but some that are important."

The governor of Congo’s North Kivu province recently praised the army for its success against the ADF, but said he thought it might take another six months to a year to finish them off.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs