Thousands flee and many killed as LRA steps up attacks
The UN Refugee Agency has noted with alarm reports of a dramatic rise in the frequency and brutality of attacks by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) from Uganda against civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR).
Between March 20 and May 6, there were over ten LRA raids on villages in southern CAR's Haut-Mbomou province. Thirty-six people were killed, houses were burned and 10,000 people were uprooted. In the eastern DRC, the latest large-scale LRA attack is reported to have occurred between February 22-26 in Orientale province. The LRA is reported to have killed up to 100 people, including children, an area that has repeatedly suffered from LRA violence. In Sudan, LRA attacks have centred on the Central and Western Equatoria regions, bordering Uganda, DRC and the Central African Republic.
Since August 2009, the LRA has carried out renewed incursions, which have forced the relocation of refugees, the displacement of the local population as well as seriously disrupting the movement of humanitarian assistance. Roving bands of LRA fighters often prey on villages in remote areas. As a result, many of the group's atrocities remain unknown for long periods.
The epicentre of LRA atrocities is in the two districts of Haut-Uele and Bas-Uele in Orientale province, where, since December 2008, it has killed more than 1,800 people, abducted some 2,500 and displaced 280,000 people. It has also forced nearly 20,000 Congolese to seek refuge in Sudan and the CAR.
In Sudan, the LRA is said to have caused the deaths of some 2,500 people and forcibly displaced another 87,800, mostly in Central and Western Equatoria. The LRA sprung up in Uganda in 1986, established its first base in Sudan in 1993 and spread to the DRC in 2005, before moving further north into the Central African Republic in 2009.