Archive for January 3, 2010

Yesterday, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay released two new reports that detail Joseph Kony’s campaigns of violence against civilians in northeastern DR Congo and South Sudan over the past year. The reports are the first public accounting of recent LRA crimes from the UN.  Joseph Kony

Pillay described LRA brutality as “consistent, deliberate and egregious,” and the report includes gruesome witness accounts such as that of one man who “reported discovering the mutilated body of a fellow villager. The villager’s leg had been chopped off, his jaws had been dislocated and his teeth had been pulled out.”

In her press briefing about the reports, Pillay called for regional governments and international leaders to enforce outstanding International Criminal Court warrants for the arrest of Kony and other senior LRA commanders, and for UN peacekeepers to act more boldly to protect civilians from the widespread violence.

Even though the reports conclude that LRA violence constitutes one of the deadliest situations of violence in the world – the rebel group murdered at least 1,300 civilians over the past year – few international leaders have called for aggressive international action to execute the warrants. LRA violence is taking place in incredibly remote areas of the Congo, Sudan, and Central African Republic, and international attention to the region has been focused much more on separate situations of violence in eastern Congo and Sudan.

The UN reports come amdist  growing fears that the LRA intends to repeat the “Christmas Massacres” of 2008, in which hundreds of Congolese civilians celebrating the holiday were brutally killed. UN peacekeepers in the Congo are deploying additional troops and are said to be on “high alert” to address this immediate threat.

As reported: United Nations rights chief: “Arrest Joseph Kony” | Resolve Uganda.

Status of the Camp Phase-Out Process in Acholi, Lango and Teso Sub-regions






Region/District Camps officially recognized by the government Camps meeting Phase-out Criteria but yet to be assessed by DCPC Camps not meeting 50% Phase-out criteria Camps Assessed and recommended for Phase-out/ Decommissioning by DCPC Camps closed/ Decommissioned
Gulu 31 14 1 10 6
Amuru 34 12 8 14 0
Pader 31 13 0 18 0
Kitgum 25 7 0 18 0
Katakwi 44 2 0 0 42
Amuria 17 5 0 0 12
Lira 41 0 0 0 41
Oyam 20 0 0 0 20






TOTAL 243 53 9 60 121






Legend




Phase-out criteria At least 50% of camp population has returned



DCPC District Camp Phase-out Committee















UNHCR Uganda October 5, 2009









IDMC | Internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Uganda.

22 October 2009: UN-supported military operations and FDLR reprisals lead to violations, abuses and displacement

The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions has described military operations against the rebel FDLR militia as “catastrophic” from a human rights perspective. Since Operation Kimia II started March in North and South Kivu Provinces, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced, thousands have been raped, hundreds of villages burnt to the ground, and at least 1,000 civilians killed. There are currently an estimated 980,000 IDPs in North Kivu Province alone. In October, over 80 Congolese and international NGOs denounced the humanitarian cost of operations against the FDLR and its reprisals against the population.

Meanwhile, the UN reported that in South Kivu Province, over 5,000 cases of rape against women had been reported in the first six months of 2009, 90 per cent of them allegedly committed by armed militias or by the Congolese army. Attacks against humanitarian workers have also increased in recent weeks in North Kivu, hampering access to IDPs and other vulnerable people. Between January and October, over 100 attacks were recorded in the province, involving murders, abductions, and thefts of assets. Fewer than ten per cent of attacks on humanitarians reported in 2008 have been formally investigated by police.

via: IDMC | Internally Displaced persons (IDPs) in the DR Congo.

Since the signing of a Cessation of Hostilities Agreement between the government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army in 2006, about two thirds of the 1.8 million IDPs who lived in camps at the height of the crisis have returned to their areas of origin.

However, much work remains to be done to ensure that these returns are sustainable. Basic infrastructure and services in the return areas are inadequate or non-existent. Lack of access to clean water poses a risk of epidemics, and clinics and schools struggle with a lack of facilities and qualified personnel. While returnees have begun to grow their own food, the food security situation of many is still fragile, particularly as low rainfall since April 2009 means that harvests are predicted to be more than 60 per cent lower than normal.

Significant numbers of those who remain in the camps are there not out of choice but because they are unable to return to their home areas. Some IDPs cannot return because land disputes prevent them from accessing land, while IDPs with special needs and vulnerabilities are unable to support themselves in the return areas. Returnee communities need assistance to reintegrate these vulnerable IDPs.

The government and its international partners in northern Uganda have struggled to manage the transition from humanitarian emergency assistance to recovery and development. The government is in the process of reasserting its authority in the north, and is formally in charge of coordination and the provision of planning frameworks. However, a lack of capacity at the local level means that government authorities frequently struggle to discharge their operational responsibilities. (…)

via IDMC | Internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Uganda.

The Lord’s Resistance Army (also Lord’s Resistance Movement or Lakwena Part Two) is a sectarian Christian militant group based in northern Uganda.

The group was formed in 1987 and is engaged in an armed rebellion against the Ugandan government in what is now one of Africa‘s longest-running conflicts. It is led by Joseph Kony, who proclaims himself the “spokesperson” of God and a spirit medium, primarily of the Holy Spirit, which the Acholi believe can represent itself in many manifestations.[3] The group adheres to a syncretistic[4] blend of Christianity, Mysticism,[5] traditional religion,[6] and witchcraft,[7] and claims to be establishing a theocratic state based on the Ten Commandments and Acholi tradition.[3][8][9][10] The LRA is accused of widespread human rights violations, including murder, abduction, mutilation, sexual enslavement of women and children, and forcing children to participate in hostilities.[11] The LRA operates mainly in northern Uganda, but also in parts of Sudan and DR Congo.[12][13]

The LRA is currently proscribed as a terrorist organization by the United States.[14]

See more on : Lord’s Resistance Army – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)

The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) , led by Joseph Kony, operated in the north from bases in southern Sudan. The LRA committed numerous abuses and atrocities, including the abduction, rape, maiming, and killing of civilians, including children. In addition to destabilising northern Uganda from bases in Sudan, the LRA congregated in the Bunia area in eastern Congo. They linked up with the Army for the Liberation of Rwanda (ALIR) and other rebel groups battling with forces from the Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD)

Some accused the Sudan of supporting the LRA and Uganda of allegedly supporting the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), the rebel movement that fought against the Sudanese government. Although both governments denied the accusations, they severed diplomatic relations with eachother on April 22, 1995. However, relations between the two countries improved. In 1999, Sudan and Uganda signed an agreement under which Sudan said it would stop aiding the LRA and Uganda would stop aiding the SPLA.

The LRA continued to kill, torture, maim, rape, and abduct large numbers of civilians, virtually enslaving numerous children. Although its levels of activity diminished somewhat compared with 1997, the area that the LRA targeted grew. The LRA sought to overthrow the Ugandan Government and inflicted brutal violence on the population in northern Uganda. LRA forces also targeted local government officials and employees. The LRA also targeted international humanitarian convoys and local NGO workers.

The LRA has abducted large numbers of civilians for training as guerrillas; most victims were children and young adults. The LRA abducted young girls as sex and labor slaves. Other children, mainly girls, were reported to have been sold, traded, or given as gifts by the LRA to arms dealers in Sudan. While some later escaped or were rescued, the whereabouts of many children remain unknown.

In particular, the LRA abducted numerous children and, at clandestine bases, terrorized them into virtual slavery as guards, concubines, and soldiers. In addition to being beaten, raped, and forced to march until exhausted, abducted children were forced to participate in the killing of other children who had attempted to escape. Amnesty International reported that without child abductions, the LRA would have few combatants. More than 6,000 children were abducted during 1998, although many of those abducted later escaped or were released. Most human rights NGOs place the number of abducted children still held captive by the LRA at around 3,000, although estimates vary substantially.

Civil strife in the north has led to the violation of the rights of many members of the Acholi tribe, which is largely resident in the northern districts of Gulu and Kitgum. Both government forces and the LRA rebels–who themselves largely are Acholi–committed violations. LRA fighters in particular were implicated in the killing, maiming, and kidnaping of Alcholi tribe members, although the number and severity of their attacks decreased somewhat compared with 1997.

The LRA rebels say they are fighting for the establishment of a government based on the biblical Ten Commandments. They are notorious for kidnapping children and forcing them to become rebel fighters or concubines. More than one-half-million people in Uganda’s Gulu and Kitgum districts have been displaced by the fighting and are living in temporary camps, protected by the army.

Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

Lava from a volcano in a sparsely populated area of the Democratic Republic of Congo is threatening rare chimpanzees, wildlife officials say.

Mount Nyamulagira, 25km (16 miles) from the eastern city of Goma, erupted at dawn on Saturday, sending lava into the surrounding Virunga National Park.

About 40 endangered chimpanzees and other animals live in the area.

But the country’s famous critically endangered mountain gorillas are said to be safe as they live further east.

Emmanuel de Merode, Virunga’s director, said that park staff were working with the civilian and military authorities to assess the risk and take appropriate action.

Rangers were deployed to the area to monitor the flow of lava and were due to report back hourly, he added.

A government official, Feller Lutahichirwa, said observers were monitoring the situation with help from UN helicopters, the Associated Press reports.

‘Mountain on fire’

While few people live in the area immediately affected, officials said their primary concern was to protect human settlements.

map

Innocent Mburanumwe, warden for Virunga’s southern sector, said that lava was flowing towards an area to the south of the volcano, where “many people” live.

“I was woken at 0345 [0145 GMT] by a loud bang, which I first thought was the sound of war,” he added.

“I thought there was fighting again near our park station,” he said, referring to the conflicts which have wracked eastern DR Congo.

“Then I saw the mountain was on fire with sparks flying.”

Mount Nyamulagira (also spelled Nyamuragira), which stands at 3,058m (10,033ft), is one of the most active volcanoes in Africa, according to officials in Virunga.

It has registered more than 35 eruptions since 1882, with the most recent before this weekend being in 2006.

Virunga, a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1979, is home to 200 of the world’s 720 remaining mountain gorillas but they live on the flanks of the Mikeno volcano further east from Nyamulagira.

Previous eruptions of the volcano have threatened the city of Goma, which has a population of at least 200,000 as well as tens of thousands of refugees.

As reported on: BBC News – DR Congo volcano eruption threatens rare chimpanzees.

The Ugandan army says that it has killed a senior commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army militant group in the Central African Republic (CAR).

Bok Abudema was killed on Friday along with one of his fighters, while two women found with them were freed, an army spokesman told the BBC.

The army said LRA leader Joseph Kony was moving between the CAR and Sudan.

Ugandan forces have been operating outside the country’s borders for a year in a campaign to destroy the LRA.

They have been deployed in northern Democratic Republic Congo and southern Sudan as well as the CAR to track down the LRA, which once operated in northern Uganda.

BBC map

Army spokesman Lt Col Felix Kulayigye said that Mr Kony was moving between the CAR and Darfur in southern Sudan in order to escape Ugandan army patrols.

Bok Abudema is only one of a number of senior LRA commanders who have been cornered and killed, says the BBC’s Africa editor, Martin Plaut.

Others have surrendered but the LRA is scattered across a remote region of dense forests and swamps, savannah and deserts – ideal territory for guerrilla operations, our editor says.

Last month the UN human rights commissioner, Navi Pillay, demanded the capture of LRA leaders for crimes against humanity and gave details of the killings, torture and rape of hundreds of civilians by the rebels.

She accused the movement of killing at least 1,200 civilians between September 2008 and June 2009.

BBC News – Uganda reports killing LRA commander Abudema in CAR.

” Lets hope that 2010 is the year that Joseph Kony is bought to justice for all the innocent victims of this atrocious war. for him to be skipping back and forth between CAR and Sudan is an eerie thought, so ok some of his rebels have been caught, killed or defected, yet it only takes a handful of rebels to go back out and attack another village and abduct another lot of children for the atrocities to re-start again. Don’t close your eyes to this war…to do so could take a life” Rebecca Fowler