Note: This post was written by Enough Project Intern Will Cullen.
This week, Enough Project partners The Resolve and Invisible Children released the LRA Crisis Tracker Midyear 2016 Security Brief. The brief analyzes the latest data on attacks, abductions, and whereabouts of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) gathered over the first six months of 2016. Providing up-to-date data on LRA activities and abuses gathered from diverse sources including hand-held radio reporting from affected communities and open-source news outlets, the crisis tracker is a crucial tool for efforts to address the LRA’s threats and improve security for LRA-affected civilian communities in the region.
The report indicates that although LRA leader Joseph Kony’s control over the group’s command structure is eroding, the LRA still poses a grave threat to civilians. In the first six months of 2016, the LRA abducted 344 people in Central African Republic (CAR), which is more than within the first six months of any year since 2010. In total, between January and June 2016, the LRA abducted 498 civilians and killed 17 during 122 attacks, nearly all occurring in eastern CAR and northern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Two exceptions were in Sudanese-controlled areas of the Kafia Kingi enclave, the first credibly reported LRA attacks on civilians there since the group established a presence in the area in 2010.
Although LRA violence in northern DRC decreased in Quarter 1 (January- March 2016), attacks and abductions more than doubled in Quarter 2 (April- May), which the brief attributes to the influx of LRA ivory poachers in Garamba National Park. The report indicates that the primary motives of the attacks were to increase food reserves, collect easily-transported valuables, and forcibly recruit children to build up the LRA’s militia.
Although the LRA released 12 women and children near Bangadi, DRC, they abducted 65 Central African children, 39 of whom remain in captivity. Fifteen teenage boys defected so far in 2016. One LRA combatant defector noted in April 2016, “The commanders of our group received orders from Kony to abduct young boys and transfer them to Awila’s group for training. In early 2016, we began abducting boys in Central Africa [CAR]. When we attacked, we gathered large groups of people. Then we would pick strong, healthy boys between the ages of 11–14 and keep them.”