Posts Tagged ‘Central Africa’

(Kampala) – The rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) killed at least 321 civilians and abducted 250 others, including at least 80 children, during a previously unreported four-day rampage in the Makombo area of northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo in December 2009, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

“The Makombo massacre is one of the worst ever committed by the LRA in its bloody 23-year history, yet it has gone unreported for months,” said Anneke Van Woudenberg, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The four-day rampage demonstrates that the LRA remains a serious threat to civilians and is not a spent force, as the Ugandan and Congolese governments claim.”

The 67-page report, “Trail of Death: LRA Atrocities in Northeastern Congo,” is the first detailed documentation of the Makombo massacre and other atrocities by the LRA in Congo in 2009 and early 2010. The report, based on a Human Rights Watch fact-finding mission to the massacre area in February, documents the brutal killings during the well-planned LRA attack from December 14 to 17 in the remote Makombo area of Haute Uele district.

LRA forces attacked at least 10 villages, capturing, killing, and abducting hundreds of civilians, including women and children. The vast majority of those killed were adult men, whom LRA combatants first tied up and then hacked to death with machetes or crushed their skulls with axes and heavy wooden sticks. The dead include at least 13 women and 23 children, the youngest a 3-year-old girl who was burned to death. LRA combatants tied some of the victims to trees before crushing their skulls with axes.

The LRA also killed those they abducted who walked too slowly or tried to escape. Family members and local authorities later found bodies all along the LRA’s 105-kilometer journey through the Makombo area and the small town of Tapili. Witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that for days and weeks after the attack, this vast area was filled with the “stench of death.”

Children and adults who managed to escape provided similar accounts of the group’s extreme brutality. Many of the children captured by the LRA were forced to kill other children who had disobeyed the LRA’s rules. In numerous cases documented by Human Rights Watch, children were ordered to surround the victim in a circle and take turns beating the child on the head with a large wooden stick until the child died.

The United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Congo (MONUC) has some 1,000 peacekeeping troops in the LRA-affected areas of northeastern Congo – far too few to protect the population adequately, given the area’s size. Yet instead of sending more troops, the peacekeeping force, under pressure from the Congolese government to withdraw from the country by July 2011, is considering removing some troops from the northeast by June in the first phase of its drawdown.

“The people of northeastern Congo are in desperate need of more protection, not less,” said Van Woudenberg. “The UN Security Council should stop any drawdown of MONUC peacekeeping troops from areas where the LRA threatens to kill and abduct civilians.”

In mid-April, the Security Council is due to visit Congo to discuss the peacekeeping force’s plans for withdrawal and the protection of civilians.

The Makombo massacre is part of a longstanding history of atrocities and abuse by the LRA in Uganda, southern Sudan, the Central African Republic (CAR), and Congo. Pushed out of northern Uganda in 2005, the LRA now operates in the remote border area between southern Sudan, Congo, and CAR. In July 2005, the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for the senior leaders of the LRA for crimes they committed in northern Uganda, but those indicted remain at large.

The Human Rights Watch research indicated that the Makombo massacre was perpetrated by two LRA commanders – Lt. Col. Binansio Okumu (also known as Binany) and a commander known as Obol. They report to Gen. Dominic Ongwen, a senior LRA leader who is believed to command the LRA’s forces in Congo and who is among those sought by the International Criminal Court. Human Rights Watch urged investigations of these commanders’ alleged participation in war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In December 2008, the governments of the region, led by the Ugandan armed forces, with intelligence and logistical support from the United States, began a military campaign known as Operation Lightning Thunder against the LRA in northeastern Congo. A surprise aerial strike on the main LRA camp failed to neutralize the LRA leadership, which escaped. In retaliation, the LRA attacked villages and towns in northern Congo and southern Sudan, killing more than 865 civilians during the Christmas 2008 holiday season and in the weeks thereafter.

On March 15, 2009, Operation Lightning Thunder officially ended, following pressure from the Congolese government, which found it politically difficult to support a continued Ugandan army presence on Congolese territory. But a covert joint military campaign continued, with the quiet approval of the Congolese president, Joseph Kabila. Both governments publicly maintain that the LRA is no longer a serious threat in Congo and that the bulk of the rebel group has either moved to Central African Republic or has been killed or dispersed.

These public declarations might have contributed to burying information about ongoing LRA attacks, leaving many victims feeling abandoned. An 80-year-old traditional chief, whose son was killed during the Makombo massacre, told Human Rights Watch: “We have been forgotten. It’s as if we don’t exist. The government says the LRA are no longer a problem, but I know that’s not true. I beg of you, please talk to others about what has happened to us.”

While the Makombo massacre is the most deadly documented attack by the LRA since the Christmas massacres of 2008, dozens of attacks against civilians have also been carried out in other areas in recent months – near the towns of Bangadi and Ngilima in Haut Uele district, in Ango territory in Bas Uele district, as well as in the Central African Republic.

In the December 2009 attacks near Bangadi and Ngilima, LRA combatants horribly mutilated six civilians, cutting off each victim’s lips and an ear with a razor. The LRA sent the victims back to their villages with a chilling warning to others that anyone who heard or spoke about the LRA would be similarly punished.

On March 11, 2010, the US Senate unanimously passed the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act. If it becomes law, it will require President Barack Obama’s administration to develop a regional strategy to protect civilians in central Africa from attacks by the LRA, to work to apprehend the LRA’s leadership, and to support economic recovery for northern Uganda. The bill is currently before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

“The people of northeastern Congo and other LRA-affected areas have suffered for far too long,” said Van Woudenberg. “The US and other concerned governments should work with the UN and regional parties to develop and carry out a comprehensive strategy to protect civilians and apprehend abusive LRA leaders.”

As reported by Human Rights Watch

Kampala — THE UPDF 4th Division commander, Brig. Charles Otema Awany, has camped at Obbo village in the Central African Republic to coordinate operations against the LRA remnants headed by Joseph Kony.

The regional army spokesman, Capt. Ronald Kakurungu, said Otema took over the command against the LRA rebels from Brig. Patrick Kankiriho.

“The hardcore LRA criminals are in the Central African Republic. The issue now is when to put the final nails on them since they are already defeated,” Kakurungu told journalists at his office on Monday.

He said the situation in the north was calm with more troops deployed in the DR Congo, the Central African Republic and at all the borders to pursue the LRA rebels and ensure that they do not return to Uganda.

“We have not lost focus in these operations and our mission is to ensure that the problem of LRA rebels does not spill over to the north again,” Kakurungu noted.

Kakurungu said the army had killed 305 rebels since it launched a joint military offensive, Operation Lightning Thunder, on December 14, 2008, under the command of Kankiriho.

He said the UPDF jointly attacked the LRA hideouts with the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army and the Congolese army in an operation backed by the air force, paratroopers and infantry.

Read the full report via allAfrica.com: Central African Republic: Army in CAR to Fight Kony.

Les Roberts, Clinical Associate Professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health has worked extensively in countries ranging from Zimbabwe to the Democratic Republic of Congo. For the last month he’s been coordinating a blog series for ONE on the Central African Republic. You can read the full series here.

His most recent post, on the impact of conflict on the Central African Republic, is below.

The impact of conflict on Central Africans is obscured if one only counts up the number of violent deaths or war-related causalities, each a tragedy in its own right. There is no doubt that the six organized rebel groups and the ever present threat of poachers and road bandits contribute to an insecurity that rarely escapes the minds of most of the rural population. But any active fighting is contained in small pockets of the country and the majority of the population lives in areas with little to no rebel or bandit activity.

It is conflict’s ability to prevent a population from accessing life’s basic services that cultivates disaster. CAR’s health system is in ruins, with even the most basic of services out of reach for many. People are dying because pharmacies aren’t stocked and the nation’s few trained doctors tend to remain in the capital, Bangui, due to the rest of the country’s insecurity, poor transportation links, and the inability to access any salary the government manages to pay them from rural areas.

In Mobaye we met a young man in agony three days after he had been in a devastating motorcycle accident. He wasn’t from the town and had no family nearby; he was traveling through there as an apprentice to a team running a trucking business. Their truck had broken down. He walked with a limp, leaning on a large stick, his shoulder and shattered right arm were supported with a sling made from a small strip of cloth and he wore a t-shirt draped over his head to hide the extensive damage to his face.

Read the full report via The Impact of Conflict in the Central African Republic | ONE.

Army in CAR to fight Kony
Sunday, 3rd January, 2010

E-mail article E-mail article Print article Print article
By Chris Ocowun

THE UPDF 4th Division commander, Brig. Charles Otema Awany, has camped at Obbo village in the Central African Republic to coordinate operations against the LRA remnants headed by Joseph Kony.

The regional army spokesman, Capt. Ronald Kakurungu, said Otema took over the command against the LRA rebels from Brig. Patrick Kankiriho.

“The hardcore LRA criminals are in the Central African Republic. The issue now is when to put the final nails on them since they are already defeated,” Kakurungu told journalists at his office on Monday.

He said the situation in the north was calm with more troops deployed in the DR Congo, the Central African Republic and at all the borders to pursue the LRA rebels and ensure that they do not return to Uganda.

“We have not lost focus in these operations and our mission is to ensure that the problem of LRA rebels does not spill over to the north again,” Kakurungu noted.

Kakurungu said the army had killed 305 rebels since it launched a joint military offensive, Operation Lightning Thunder, on December 14, 2008, under the command of Kankiriho.

He said the UPDF jointly attacked the LRA hideouts with the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army and the Congolese army in an operation backed by the air force, paratroopers and infantry.

The forces withdrew from Congo early last year when the time granted by the Congolese government for the operations elapsed. However, the army maintained intelligence units to help the SPLA and Congolese army clear LRA remnants, Kakurungu added.

He also explained that the army with the Police have been conducting a national de-mining programme in the north.

“There was a big concern by the IDPs about the mines in return areas. Most of these areas were battlefields and, not yet safe for settlement,”

Kakurungu stated that the UPDF and the Police recovered ammunition in the return areas in Gulu, Amuru, Pader and Kitgum.

Some of the weapons recovered included 23 land mines, 277 grenades and 154 rocket- propelled grenades.

// <![CDATA[

if (!document.phpAds_used) document.phpAds_used = ',';
phpAds_random = new String (Math.random()); phpAds_random = phpAds_random.substring(2,11);

document.write ("”);
//
]]>

New Vision Online : Army in CAR to fight Kony.

After getting my kids off to bed tonight i sat down and finally go to watch the last few parts of Uganda Rising. I honestly find it really annoying that the ICC cannot prosecute further back that 2004. To read and watch into the history of the LRA war it is exhausting. Its a very politically motivated war that has turned into a war of nothing, just a war of killing.

To see what the Acholi have faced and continue to face is a very disheartening experience. To me i just cannot understand why people are so intolerant of Africa, why people keep on saying “well there has always been civil wars in Africa” but yet have they taken the time to research why there have always been wars in Africa? i highly doubt it.

Education is the key to life, just as the Northern ugandan children beleive that it may be the key to theirs. They are the next generation of leaders for Northern Uganda, they are mothers, daughters, sons and fathers, what would you do if this was your family, your community suffering? would you sit by and watch and do nothing?

This is my first journal post as ive posted a full historical lead up to this first post going through how i started and why i continue to, on a daily basis, campaign for the rights of those in Northern uganda, why i continue to educate people and update people with what is going on in the world. If the media won’t report it, then someone must, i if that is me, then so be it.

i am a voice for the voiceless, i am one of many, many hundreds of thousands of activist around the world, just like me, working for the ultimate goal, Peace for the Children. be it of Uganda or Sudan or Afghanistan or Iran, Children all over the world are suffering, are you compassionate enough to be a voice for the voiceless?

I received an email tonight from a great activist friend, and his kind words lifted my spirits up high, after watching such a depressing and sad documentary i was uplifted again, to know that my words do make a difference. I have never met this friend, but to know that i have made a difference even to just one person, i know i am doing what i am meant to be doing, my life has lead me on this journey, ending up somewhere i never ever expected to be, but here i am, an activist, a voice for the voiceless, and I WILL see change in MY lifetime. I may be one person, but i can move the world…..i dare you to move it too!

Rebecca-Anne
Twitter: @FreeUganda for what is going on in Uganda and the LRA war terrorizing Africa.
Main Header Picture by: Invisible Children