• April 30, 2015
  • News & Analysis
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LRA Crisis Tracker: Trends in LRA activity from January-March 2015

1. LRA abductions rose in Quarter 1 for the second consecutive year. The LRA committed more abductions in Quarter 1 2015 (188) than in Quarter 1 2014 (144) and Quarter 1 2013 (82). LRA abduction rates are often high during the first three months of the year, the peak of dry season. Despite the increase in LRA abductions in Quarter 1 2015, LRA only killed five people, a low number consistent with recent downward trends in LRA killings.

Total LRA abductions and killings by quarter, 2011-2015

trend 1

2. The surge in LRA abductions occurred primarily in DR Congo. Nearly 90% of LRA attacks and abductions in Quarter 1 2015 occurred in DR Congo. LRA rebels particularly targeted communities west and south of Garamba National Park, which endured its highest levels of LRA violence in several years. LRA rebels also targeted communities along the Ango-Gwane-Zapai axis in DR Congo’s Bas Uele district, including the temporary abduction of 14 Congolese refugees on March 21st who had crossed from Zemio, CAR into Bas Uele.

LRA attacks and abductions in communities surrounding DR Congo’s Garamba National Park by quarter, 2011-2015

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3. LRA killings of FARDC soldiers have spiked in the past six months. The LRA killed 11 FARDC soldiers in DR Congo between October 2014 and March 2015 after killing only three in the previous three years. In once incident, near Ngilima, DRC, LRA forces attacked a FARDC unit on patrol, killing five soldiers. In January, LRA combatants attacked a FARDC base near Nakale and killed another soldier. The pattern of violent LRA engagement with FARDC forces has shifted, from chance interactions in the forest to deliberate targeting of FARDC personnel and encampments.

4. LRA attacks dropped dramatically in eastern CAR, but attacks by unidentified armed groups and bandits skyrocketed. The LRA only committed four attacks and 10 abductions in eastern CAR in Quarter 1 2015, the lowest numbers since mid-2009. This may indicate that LRA groups have moved from eastern CAR to northern DR Congo and the Kafia Kingi enclave in order to escape pressure by the Ugandan military. However, there has been a surge of attacks by unidentified armed groups and bandits in LRA-affected areas of CAR so far this year, with 18 such incidents concentrated near communities along the Rafai-Dembia-Derbissaka-Djemah road alone.

Attacks on civilians by unidentified armed groups in LRA-affected areas of eastern CAR, Quarter 1 2015

trend 3

5. The number of LRA combatant defectors has dropped since mid-2014. 46 Ugandan male combatants defected or were captured from the LRA between January 2012 and June 2014, an average of 4.6 per quarter. However, only three have defected in the previous nine months, an average of 1 per quarter. Most significantly, Dominic Ongwen, an ICC-indictee and respected commander within the LRA, surrendered in the Central African town of Sam Ouandja on January 5, 2015.

About the Author

Paul Ronan
Paul Ronan

Paul Ronan is Project Director for The Resolve. @pauldronan