- February 29, 2012
- News & Analysis
One of the most troubling aspects of LRA violence in the tri-border region between Congo, CAR, and South Sudan has been its ability to exacerbate tensions that already exist within affected communities. This is particularly true for the Mbororo, nomadic cattle-herders who have historically moved with the seasons across the fluid borders of South Sudan, Congo, CAR, and beyond as they graze their cattle.
We wanted to highlight a recent New York Times piece that looks at the marginalization and violence towards this minority group in South Sudan. Over the past seven years, thousands of Mbororo have been the victims of violence and displacement due to these inter-communal tensions. Potentially hundreds of Mbororo have been killed in these disputes, primarily stemming from land conflicts with the local farming population.
The Mbororo, seen as stateless outsiders by local communities, are often accused of collaborating with the LRA, though little evidence exists to support this. As both the Mbororo and the LRA operate in remote rural areas, they may cross paths. But, as discussed in our recent paper, Peace Can Be: President Obama’s chance to help end LRA atrocities in 2012, the Mbororo have in fact been some of the main victims of LRA violence. The rebels often attack these herders to steal their cattle, or kidnap and hold them hostage until their friends and family can return with goods and supplies.
This scapegoating and marginalization of weak minority groups is all too common in settings of instability and violence—in fact, it is one of the reasons that the LRA has been allowed to operate for so long. “Historically, the LRA has thrived in areas where communities are already marginalized by national governments and militaries that feel little pressure to foster economic development and protect civilians,” my teammate Paul wrote in our 2010 report From Promise to Peace: A blueprint for President Obama’s LRA strategy.
As this New York Times article illustrates, LRA violence has ripple effects that stretch beyond the communities directly impacted by their atrocities. It also contributes to greater volatility and instability in communities across the region, which further reinforces the urgency of bringing an end to LRA violence this year.