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

Unpaid Kurdish Fighters Sign of Economic Woes

Sharp cuts in Kurdistan's budget by Baghdad, falling oil revenue, coping with refugees, inflated public sector have hit regional economy hard More

Koreas Exchange List of Envoys for Family Reunion Talks

Officials will discuss date, venue and number of participants for reunion; Seoul hopes to hold event late this month More

China Targets 197 in Online Speech Crackdown

Nearly 200 punished for 'spreading rumors' online in ongoing crackdown on free speech 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.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

VOA Blogs