- April 26, 2013
- News & Analysis
Today, we released a new report documenting Sudanese support to the LRA from October 2009 until at least February 2013. You can download it here in full. The report shows that for the last four years the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) allowed LRA fighters – including Joseph Kony himself – to periodically use the Kafia Kingi enclave as a safe haven from which to avoid pursuing troops.
Kafia Kingi is a territory straddling the borders of Sudan, South Sudan, and Central African Republic. It is claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan but currently controlled by Sudan. Ugandan-led forces pursuing Kony, authorized by the African Union, are not allowed access to the area.
The information in the report stems mostly from the testimonies of eight different LRA defectors who confirmed LRA movements into Kafia Kingi. Five of those defectors confirmed that LRA fighters met with SAF personnel near the SAF garrison at Dafak in Kafia Kingi. SAF personnel also provided LRA forces with limited material support, largely in the form of basic medicine and food supplies. The SAF previously provided arms, training, and safe haven to the LRA from 1994 until 2004, but their quiet renewal of support since 2009 has gone largely undocumented by the international community.
The report also includes satellite imagery showing the likely location of Joseph Kony’s recent camp within the enclave. Matching intelligence shared by LRA defectors, the imagery shows the camp was established in late 2011 along the banks of the Umbelasha River and then abandoned between February and March of 2013.
Support of any kind from Sudan to the LRA presents a serious threat to the success of current efforts to end LRA violence in the region, which has now stretched nearly three decades. However, the news in the report isn’t all bad. Significantly, no evidence has yet surfaced suggesting Sudan has provided new arms to the LRA. Moreover, the fact that the LRA was allowed to operate from disputed territory — with very limited evidence of their movement into Sudan proper — suggests that the Sudanese may be opting to keep Kony at arm’s length.
This silver lining underscores the importance of diplomatic efforts to prevent further support from flowing to Kony from the Sudanese government. In the report, we recommend that the African Union take the lead in negotiating directly with Sudan to see that happen, with support from governments of LRA-affected countries, the United Nations, and other concerned members of the international community such as the United States.
Our thanks go out to partners at Invisible Children and Enough Project, who co-produced the report and provided invaluable input, as well as to Amnesty International USA and DigitalGlobe for providing the satellite imagery and analysis. And as always, we are grateful to all of those who shared their stories with me and other researchers in the hopes that it would make a difference.
– Paul Ronan