The Institute of War and Peace Reporting has released a harrowing account of a survivor of the violence of the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA. Catherine Ajok was abducted in 1996 by the LRA and became one of LRA commander Joseph Kony’s many “wives,” before finally escaping in December during the recent joint military operation on Kony’s camp in northeastern Congo’s remote Garamba National Park.
This joint military offensive, known as Operation Lightning Thunder, was executed by the Ugandan, southern Sudanese, and Congolese militaries, but the operation failed in its goal to capture Kony and the senior leadership of the LRA. Since December, the LRA has embarked on a fresh wave of killings and abductions as they flee their outposts in remote northeastern Congo as a result of the operation against them. Human Rights Watch reports that LRA has brutally murdered more than 1,000 since December, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees recently estimated that 11,000 people were driven from their homes due to LRA attacks in mid-March.
Enough has called for the United Nations and the Obama administration to make civilian protection a priority in northeastern Congo, a vast and remote region with a population that remains helpless while the specter of further LRA attacks looms. Enough will soon be releasing a strategy paper assessing the fallout in northeastern Congo from Operation Lightning Thunder and focusing on what can be done in its aftermath to better protect civilians from the deadly and ongoing threat of the LRA.