During our recent trip through southern Sudan, focused on capturing individual stories that help illustrate the challenges people there currently face, Enough’s South Sudan researcher Maggie Fick and I were intrigued by a relatively new actor in the fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army near Sudan’s border with Congo and the Central African Republic – a local defense force known as the Arrow Boys.
While the loose-knit, meagerly armed group may not seem like a good match to the ruthless fighters of the LRA, many people we met – from civilians displaced by LRA attacks, local and state government representatives, church officials, and aid workers – say the Arrow Boys play an indispensable role in protecting civilians in the region. In an Enough Field Dispatch published today, we examine the need for the Arrow Boys and the strategies they use, and we discuss the concerns that quickly arise when a new armed group emerges in a volatile corner of Sudan.
Here’s a glimpse:
The regional leader of the Arrow Boys, who asked for his name not to be used for security reasons, explained that after watching the LRA ravage their communities, southern Sudanese men and boys decided to respond.
“Very many people have died, and many others have had to flee their homes. […] We came with the mind of how to provide security for those that are here and end that threat [of the LRA],” he said.
“When I saw that kind of killing—they could crash the heads of your sons and daughters so they can’t even be recognized—it pained my heart,” said the leader of one group of Arrow Boys. “It depends on the heart. Any boy can be an Arrow Boy,” he said.
Click here to read the full dispatch.