This post was written by guest blogger and Enough Project intern Emily Brandon.
This week, Enough Project partners The Resolve and Invisible Children released the 2013 LRA Crisis Tracker Annual Security Brief. The brief analyzes data on the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) gathered over the course of the year, touching on a wide range of critical issues like attacks, abductions, defections and whereabouts. It provides vital updates and recommendations, encouraging the continuation of regional and international efforts to counter the group’s activities.
This report acknowledges a significant decline in attacks and abductions in Congo – putting them at their their lowest levels in over five years. The trend does not extend to the Central African Republic (CAR), which has experienced an increase in large-scale LRA looting raids in areas of CAR under the authority of Seleka fighters. Additionally, the report shows there were the first LRA attacks in South Sudan since 2011.
According to the report, LRA fighting capacity took a hit this past year, having lost as much as one-fifth of its core infrastructure. This positive development is in part due to a decline in Ugandan combatants due to deaths, captures and defections, along with the LRA’s inability to replace this core task force, resulting in an estimated 16-20% decrease in high ranking officers and fighters over the course of 2013. The African Union Regional Task Force (AU RTF) played a major role in this success, having captured or killed many LRA commanders and playing a key role in the destruction of several LRA camps, safe havens, and supply networks.
However, due in part to trans-border networks that includes camps, farms, support from regional governments, and ivory trafficking, the LRA has still managed to sustain itself. These survival strategies highlight their units’ resiliency in diverse environments. Elephant ivory has been one significant source of revenue for the LRA. The LRA Crisis Tracker brief also emphasizes how LRA attacks continue to threaten civilians in northeastern DRC. A common safe haven for the LRA and other armed groups are the dense forests of Garamba National Park, though the area has recently experienced a reduction in violence.