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

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani More

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.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid