One of Africa’s longest running conflicts took a turn for the worse this week. The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group that has been fighting the Ugandan government in an attempt to establish a theocratic state based on the 10 commandments, abducted 50 school children and killed 3 people along the Congo-Sudan border this week. South Sudan’s military also said that LRA rebels attacked one of its units, killing one soldier and setting a child on fire along the remote Sudanese border with the DR Congo.
Two years of peace talks collapsed in April after LRA leader Joseph Kony failed to show up because of concerns over amnesty issues. There is an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court (ICC) out for Joseph Kony, and the LRA rebels say they will sign no peace deal until that warrant is lifted. The two-decade civil war between the LRA and the Ugandan government has displaced 2 million people, killed tens of thousands, and has been known for the horrific abductions of children and mutilations of civilians by the LRA.
It has been widely reported that the LRA has been rebuilding in the remote intersection of South Sudan, Uganda, the Central African Republic, and the DRC. In response to this turn of events, the Congolese army, with support from the UN, has deployed hundreds of troops to the area to contain LRA movements. Yet the recent attacks come as a surprise given the LRA’s rhetoric on wanting to achieve peace with the government. The need for peace is urgent, given the capability the LRA has to destabilize an already fragile region.
-Will Cragin, Emerging Conflicts Education Coordinator