LRA attacks spike in Central African Republic Republic
There has been a sharp increase in LRA attacks in the Central African Republic (CAR) since the beginning of the year, says Human Rights Watch in a recent press release, reflecting a significant increase over the statistics for 2011. “The increase in LRA attacks shows that the rebel group is not a spent force and remains a serious threat to civilians,” said Anneke Van Woudenberg, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch.
The attacks have newly displaced some 2,000 civilians in 2012, bringing the total number of people displaced in the tri-border region due to LRA violence to over 400,000. As people flee their homes and move to the marginal safety of larger towns, they leave behind their fields, and fear to return to cultivate them because of the threat of LRA attacks. This has led to a growing problem of food insecurity for the civilian populations. A large fraction of recent LRA attacks include looting food supplies and abducting civilians to transport the stolen goods.
A lack of communications infrastructure, such as phone and high-frequency radio networks, makes it difficult for civilians to report LRA attacks. The poor roads and transport capacity of security forces prevents them from responding quickly even once an attack is reported. Just over 100 Central African military forces are spread across the vast forested stretches of southeast CAR, often with only 2-4 soldiers per village. Ugandan military forces, working with US military advisers, have put pressure on LRA groups operating in the vast forests east of the town of Djemah. However, the Ugandan do not have enough troops deployed to protect more than a handful of towns, leaving civililians even more vulnerable to attack.
“The African Union, United Nations, and governments in the region should take urgent steps to implement comprehensive civilian protection measures and put real muscle into making them work,” said Anneke Van Woudenberg, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch.
Find the full press release here.