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LRA attacks on the rise in central Africa

© UNHCR/M. Hofer. Children play at a water outlet in the Bangapili settlement for internally displaced people. They fled their homes to escape LRA attacks.

UNHCR has received reports of more violence by the Lord’s Resistance Army in central Africa in recent weeks, with 13 new LRA attacks in north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since early March. Two people were killed and 13 abducted, and the violence has displaced more than 1,160 people in the Dungu area.   

The number of LRA attacks in north-eastern DRC now totals 33 this year, and 4,000 people have been displaced. There have also been reports of attacks by the Ugandan rebel group in Bondo, close to the border with the Central African Republic (CAR).  

In CAR itself, attacks attributed to the LRA resumed in January after a lull since April 2011. Eleven LRA attacks have been recorded in the south-eastern part of the country this year.  Eight of those took place near the towns of Zemio and Mboki, where UNHCR assists refugees and internally displaced populations. Four people were killed during the attacks and 31 abducted, according to the CAR defence and security forces. The security situation in south-eastern CAR remains extremely fragile. 

UNHCR staff on the ground say that patrols around Obo by the two national armies supported by the U.S. military advisers have enabled local authorities to ensure security within a 25-km radius from Obo, compared to 5 km before the patrols were instituted. The extended security perimeter is allowing residents to tend their farms. 

South Sudan’s Western and Central Equatorial states together now host more than 22,000 refugees from these two neighbouring countries, including more than 700 new arrivals this year. South Sudan is preparing to host African Union forces to coordinate a regional effort to eliminate LRA threats.

UNHCR welcomes the unprecedented regional and international initiatives aimed at ending the LRA atrocities in CAR, DRC and South Sudan and urges all actors to respect human rights and minimize risk to civilian populations.

Indiscriminate LRA assaults on civilians in these three countries have left an estimated 440,000 people internally displaced or living as refugees, with 335,000 displaced within DRC alone. UNHCR works with the local authorities, other UN agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations to assist people who escape or are rescued from the LRA. 

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