LRA Crisis Tracker Blog Posts
Today we released the 2012 LRA Crisis Tracker Annual Security Brief. The brief analyzes trends and patterns in LRA activity from January – December 2012 and compares LRA activity between 2010, 2011, and 2012. You can download the pdf here, or view the report online in the plug-in above.
For those of you hesitant to read another densely-worded thesis by a DC-based NGO: fear not. This report will dazzle you (we hope) with a mix of maps, charts, and graphs. It’s no Beyonce half-time show, but we did our best.
The top six trends from the report, including a spike in Ugandan combatant defections in 2012, are pasted below. The full report includes analysis on LRA weapons use, size of attacking forces, and patterns in the location of large scale abductions/killings and the relation of LRA attacks to time of day.
1. LRA violence spiked in the first half of 2012 (191 attacks) and then tapered off in the second half of the year (84 attacks).
This trend is similar to LRA activity patterns seen in 2010 and 2011. These patterns have been influenced by the LRA’s tendency to reduce attacks during the rainy season, and indicate that civilians are at increased risk of LRA violence in the first several months of 2013.
2. Senior LRA commanders are operating primarily in the Central African Republic (CAR) and the Sudanese-controlled Kafia Kingi enclave.
Commanders operating primarily in these areas include International Criminal Court-indictees Joseph Kony, Dominic Ongwen, and Okot Odhiambo. Maj. John Bosco Kibwola and Col. Otto Agweng, two increasingly influential LRA commanders, are also reported to be in CAR or Kafia Kingi. Lt. Col. Vincent Binansio “Binany” Okumu, formerly a personal bodyguard to Kony, was allegedly the ranking LRA commander in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo) for much of 2012. He was killed by the Ugandan military in CAR in January 2013.
3. The number of Ugandan adult males returning from the LRA increased in 2012.
Though accurately tracking Ugandan returnees from the LRA is difficult, the LRA Crisis Tracker recorded a spike in the number of Ugandan adult males who escaped or were captured in 2012. Because the LRA can no longer actively recruit Ugandans, each Ugandan adult male who returns from the group is a significant loss to the LRA’s core fighting force and command structure. Of the 20 who returned in 2012, 15 saw or heard defection messaging in the form of leaflets, FM or shortwave radio broadcasts, or helicopter-mounted speakers. In addition, 8 surrendered to newly introduced Safe Reporting Sites in CAR.
4. The majority of LRA abductees in 2012 were adults used as temporary porters, not children trained to become future fighters.
Available data indicates that 69% of LRA abductees in 2012 were adults and 64% of all 2012 abductees escaped or were released within one month of their abduction. The preference for temporary adult abductees suggests that instead of seeking to train young children as new fighters, the LRA is in need of strong adults capable of carrying heavy loads of looted goods.
5. In 2012, LRA groups committed unusually large and brazen attacks in areas of CAR beyond the reach of Ugandan troops and US military advisers.
These include the massacre of 13 artisanal gold miners on a hunting reserve northeast of Bangassou, an attack on a French uranium mining camp in Bakouma, and the abduction of 97 people in two separate attacks near Fode. LRA groups have directed threats of future attacks at communities in this area. There are few CAR troops deployed in this area and it is largely out of reach for Ugandan troops and US military advisers, who are deployed further east in CAR.
6. The LRA is intentionally killing fewer people.
LRA combatants killed a total of 51 civilians in 2012, the lowest figure since 2007. The LRA killed civilians in only 10% of total attacks in 2012, compared to 30% in 2011 and 50% in 2010. Similarly, the average number of people killed per attack has decreased steadily in the past three years: 1.5 (2010), 0.52 (2011), and 0.18 (2012). Though the LRA’s fighting force has been reduced since 2010, the drop in killings does not indicate that the group no longer has the capacity to kill civilians or commit large massacres.This trend is also the result of a strategic decision by Kony in mid-2011 to reduce killings of civilians.
Invisible Children and The Resolve LRA Crisis Initiative recently released the 2012 LRA Crisis Tracker Quarter 3 Security Brief (you can see the French version here). The brief analyzes LRA activity from July-September 2012. Check out some highlights from the brief below:
-There was a 42% drop in reported LRA attacks from Quarter 2 to Quater 3 2012. This drop mirrors a similar reduction in attacks from Q2-Q3 in 2010 and 2011.
-Most senior LRA commanders are thought to be operating out of southeastern and northeastern Central African Republic, as well as the disputed Kafia Kingi enclave on the border of Sudan and South Sudan that is currently controlled by Sudan.
-The majority of reported LRA attacks in Q3 occurred in Democratic Republic of Congo, clustered in Haut-Uele district. However, the most severe attack occurred north of Bangassou, CAR in early September. In that attack LRA forces abducted an estimated 49 civilians and killed 2 other civilians during the abduction. All of those abducted either escaped or were later released, and several escapees reported the LRA combatants raped many of the abducted women and girls, including an eight-year-old girl.
-There was an average of 0.18 people killed per LRA attacks in Q3 2012, continuing a trend observed over the past year of severely reduced killings by the LRA. The trend was particularly pronounced in Congo during Q3 2012, where LRA forces killed only 1 civilian in 39 attacks there.
For more information on the sourcing and methodology of the report, see pages 7-8 of the brief, or the LRA Crisis Tracker Codebook and Methodology v. 1.6. As always, shoot us an email (email@example.com) with any questions or suggestions for future reports.
In the past few weeks we’ve highlighted some trends in the LRA’s abduction patterns (see here and here), specifically how LRA groups have been abducting more adults and less children. Today we’re briefly highlighting another trend in LRA activity: a steady decline in the number of civilian fatalities per attack.
The above graph demonstrates this trend very clearly. The average number of people killed per attack has decreased steadily in the past two years: 1.5 (2010), .52 (2011), and .18 (2012). Of all the attacks in 2012, there have only been 21 incidents of the LRA killing civilians, 19 of those including 2 fatalities or less. While the lower numbers are a positive sign, steady levels of population displacement in LRA-affected areas over the past two years indicate that communities are still very fearful of LRA violence. And, as we discussed last week, the lower numbers do not necessarily reflect a decline in the LRA’s capacity.
And as always, be sure to check out the LRA Crisis Tracker for updated reports and attack alerts.
Yesterday we posted a blog analyzing the New York Times piece on the increase of elephant poaching in central Africa, particularly allegations that both the LRA and the Ugandan military are involved in the illegal trade of elephant tusks. Today we discuss how these allegations relate to a larger challenge facing international policymakers: improving mechanisms to investigate where LRA groups are located and how they sustain themselves.
In order to develop effective counter- LRA strategies, policymakers need such basic information as where LRA groups are located and if they benefit from external support or trade to help sustain themselves. However, despite the UN Security Council’s approval of a joint UN/AU LRA strategy in June, little is being done to investigate substantial developments in LRA activity and movements. This extends beyond the lack of investigation into whether LRA groups are poaching for ivory. Substantial reports have circulated in the media and in diplomatic circles for months that senior LRA commanders, including Joseph Kony, are hiding in South Darfur, but US, UN, and AU officials have been unable to publicly confirm or deny the allegations.
The lack of clarity on the allegations of Kony being in Darfur– which the reports of the LRA’s involvement in the ivory trade could help corroborate – is increasingly making the current US and UN/AU counter-LRA strategies seem out of touch with reality. These strategies, though encompassing a broad range of civilian and military initiatives, rely heavily on the hopes that the Ugandan military can succeed in capturing or killing senior LRA commanders, including Kony. However, tension between Uganda and Sudan precludes Ugandan troop deployments in South Darfur, meaning that if Kony is in Darfur he will remain out of their reach.
However, because Kony’s alleged presence in Darfur is uncertain, attention remains focused on Ugandan military operations (which are currently limited mostly to CAR) and little diplomatic capital is spent engaging Sudan on how to ensure Kony is not given safe haven in its territory.
Last month we saw a small step forward in this regard when the UN Security Council – led by the US, the UK, and others – insisted on including language in UNAMID’s mandate encouraging it to collect information on LRA activity in Darfur, despite strong objections from Sudan and China. Though the language should make UNAMID more proactive in monitoring reported LRA activity in Darfur, in reality it has little capacity to do so. International diplomats have reportedly raised the issue with Sudanese officials, but not at a sufficiently high level: Sudanese officials have yet to agree to discuss the allegations with the lead UN and AU officials on the LRA, Special Representative for Central Africa Abou Moussa and AU Special Envoy on the LRA Francisco Madeira.
More senior US, UN, and AU officials should complement the efforts of Moussa and Madeira, and push Khartoum to allow a joint UN/AU team full access to South Darfur and the Kafia Kingi enclave to investigate reports of LRA activity there, including whether LRA groups are participating in the illegal ivory trade. UNAMID should participate, as should personnel from the AU’s new LRA Joint Operations Center in Yambio, South Sudan.
Similarly, more must be done to investigate allegations of the Ugandan military’s involvement in illegal elephant poaching. US advisers working with Ugandan forces can play a key investigative role, as can the UN-led Joint Intelligence Operations Center (JIOC) cell in Dungu, Congo. If these allegations are confirmed, any perpetrators must be held accountable and the Ugandan government should be required to provide some form of compensation to the park and the Congolese government. Further investigations are also needed to examine if this incident is part of a broader pattern of natural resource exploitation by the Ugandan government in LRA-affected areas (allegations that we’ve examined in previous reports). If so, the US should reevaluate its support to Ugandan forces pursuing the LRA and consider taking stronger measures to discourage such behavior.
A New York Times article posted today includes extensive allegations that both LRA rebels and the Ugandan military forces pursuing them have recently poached elephants in Congo’s Garamba National Park in an attempt to cash in on the lucrative illegal ivory trade. Here’s a breakdown of the evidence that the article highlights, along with some additional context. We also highly recommend you watch this NYT video that contains interviews from park rangers and field researchers. Tomorrow we’ll post about the article’s implications for what international policymakers should do to investigate these and similar allegations of LRA activity.
LRA part of illegal ivory trade networks in Sudan?
For several months we’ve been highlighting evidence that LRA groups are poaching for ivory, including in my colleague Michael’s testimony before UN Security Council experts in June and in our most recent LRA Crisis Tracker report. Most of the reports come from park rangers in Garamba National Park in northeastern Congo, which LRA groups have occupied periodically since 2005.
Today’s NYT article quotes park rangers describing a clash with LRA forces as the LRA were poaching elephants, “Most poachers are conservative with their ammo, but these guys were shooting like they were in Iraq. All of a sudden, we were outgunned and outnumbered.” According to the article, escapees testified to at least 39 elephants being killed by LRA forces, and escapees say orders are to send the ivory to LRA leader Joseph Kony. We’ve heard from separate sources that Ugandan military forces have also apprehended LRA combatants with elephant ivory in CAR, just across the border from Congo.
However, the NYT article adds new information to this picture, particularly an interview with a commercial ivory retailer in Omdurman, Sudan who claims that the LRA trades ivory for weapons. This is especially notable in light of allegations that a group of LRA rebels including Joseph Kony is taking refuge in the Darfur region of Sudan. Darfur lies directly along an illegal ivory trade route that stretches from elephant-rich areas of central Africa to major Sudanese cities like Omdurman and Khartoum. It is possible that Kony is using ivory to buy weapons or other supplies in Darfur, or to gain the support of local government and military officials.
Ugandan military accused of killing Congolese elephants in April
Today’s NYT article claims that a Mi-17 helicopter with registration numbers linking it to the Ugandan military was flying over the park in early April several days after park guards found 22 dead elephants with their tusks hacked away. Park guards suspect helicopter poaching as they found the elephant carcasses clumped, possibly corralled by a helicopter, whereas elephants normally scatter when the shooting begins. The elephants were also found with only one shot to head, which park rangers claim could only have been fired from a helicopter. The article quotes Col. Felix Kulayigye, a spokesperson for the Ugandan military, as denying any Ugandan military involvement in the incident.
Reports that Ugandan military forces were involved in this mass elephant killing have been circulating for several months, but the only evidence has been largely circumstantial, such as the sighting of a Ugandan military helicopter. Though Ugandan forces have not been officially allowed to operate in Congo since late September 2011, they do occasional patrols into Congolese territory to pursue LRA forces, which could explain the helicopter sighting. However, the NYT reports that park guards think that a cache of illegal ivory recently seized in Uganda’s Entebbe airport – which matches the amount of ivory taken from the adult elephants in March – could provide a stronger link to the Ugandan military.
Though the evidence remains inconclusive for now, the Ugandan military’s history of exploitation of natural resources during its occupation of large swaths of eastern Congo from 1997-2003 means that these allegations must be taken seriously. The US has been concerned about the possibility of Ugandan forces exploiting natural resources even as it pushes the Congolese government to give them permission to pursue LRA groups in northern Congo. In a 2011 talk at the US Institute of Peace, US Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson said, “We have continued to provide logistical support for their [Ugandan military] operations on the condition that they remain focused on the mission, cooperate with the other regional governments, and do not commit abuses,” a message the US has reinforced to Ugandan officials in recent years.
Check back tomorrow for another post on how US and international policymakers should follow-up on the allegations in the NYT article and on allegations of LRA activity in Darfur.
Last week we discussed shifts in LRA abduction patterns through the lens of LRA Crisis Tracker data. Primarily, we examined how the LRA seems to be abducting fewer children with the intention of training them to be soldiers, and instead abducting more adults to use as porters for looted goods. We raised two questions: whether or not we can conclude from these trends that the LRA’s integration of children into their ranks will decline indefinitely, and can we conclude that the LRA’s fighting capacity has been permanently reduced. Our answer is still that neither of these are likely true. And here’s why:
The LRA has a remarkable history of adaptation and survival: As we discussed in our June 2012 policy report, Joseph Kony and senior LRA commanders have demonstrated a remarkable ability to survive both military operations and negotiation processes aimed at ending their rebellion. During this time, the LRA’s fighting capacity has fluctuated dramatically, tending to increase during less effective military operations and peace processes. Conversely, its fighting capacity has decreased during more effective peace efforts (i.e. Uganda’s amnesty program and civil society FM radio in the early 2000s) and military operations (i.e. Ugandan military operations in northern Congo and southeast CAR in 2009).
However, the LRA has proven its resilience throughout these fluctuations, and it would be premature to assume that the current decline in their integration of child soldiers will continue indefinitely. This is particularly true given the failure of regional governments to cooperate effectively on cross-border counter-LRA strategies.
The decrease in child abductions is likely intentional (at least partially): Last week we talked about how Ugandan military pressure, which makes it difficult for LRA groups to maintain permanent camps and steady food sources, is reducing the LRA’s ability to integrate child soldiers. However, the reduction in abducting and training children could also be part of an intentional strategy to lay low and hope current military operations lose momentum.
Recent escapees from the LRA provide credibility to this argument. Some have reported that senior LRA commanders are aware of the heightened international attention placed on the group in recent years, including President Obama’s decision to sign legislation focused on the LRA in 2010 and deploy US military advisers in 2011. Some escapees also report that LRA commanders have ordered a reduction in killings and large-scale attacks, presumably because such attacks, especially those targeting children, could result in greater international attention and investment in counter-LRA military operations.
The LRA doesn’t need many fighters to abduct and train new recruits: From December 14th- 18th, 2009, the LRA killed over 321 people and abducted an estimated 250 in the Makombo region of northern Congo. Human Rights Watch researchers estimated that only 40 LRA fighters participated in the attacks. The Makombo attacks are an extreme example of an LRA truism: small groups of fighters are capable of large-scale atrocities. If history is any lesson, the core nucleus of LRA fighters will be able to abduct more children and regrow their fighting capacity should military pressure recede and UN-led efforts to promote defections falter.
The LRA has long been associated with child soldiers, and rightfully so – UNICEF estimates that the LRA has abducted at least 35,000 children since 1986. But LRA Crisis Tracker data on abductions indicates that the LRA is relying less on abducted children to replenish fighting capacity, corroborating a trend that’s been highlighted anecdotally in the past two years by LRA analysts. Instead, the LRA seem to be abducting more adults, who often escape or are released within a few days, to transport food and other goods looted from local communities.
Analysis of LRA Crisis Tracker data reveals several trends in LRA abductions patterns that reinforce this theory. First, the LRA seem to be abducting mostly adults. Of LRA abductions in the first half of 2012 in which age information was recorded, 70.6% of abductees were adults. The LRA’s preference for abducting children, who are more impressionable and malleable than adults, when it wants to rebuild its fighting capacity is well documented. The preference for adult abductees so far this year suggests that instead of seeking to train new fighters, the LRA is in need of strong adults capable of carrying heavy loads of looted goods.
Another indicator is the large number of abductees who are escaping from the LRA soon after being abducted. In the first half of 2012, 47.6% of reported abductees escaped within 72 hours of their abduction (this number is likely even higher in reality, as abductions are more likely to be reported than escapes). Many reports have also emerged of LRA forces abducting civilians, forcing them to carry goods back to an LRA camp, and then intentionally releasing them. If the LRA were seeking to build its fighting capacity, more long-term abductions in which abductees are forced to undergo the LRA’s arduous training and indoctrination processes would be expected.
Yet another sign that the LRA is using abductees to carry looted goods rather than as new forces is the decrease in the scale of individual abductions. The average number of people abducted per attack has dropped steadily from 2010 (3.00) to 2011 (2.10) to the first half of 2012 (1.63). And with the largest abduction this year being 13 people, we’ve seen nothing like the mass abductions targeting children and young adults seen in Obo, CAR in March 2008 (73 people) and Duru, DRC in September 2008 (248 people).
This trend of using abducted persons as porters coincides with reports that pressure by the Ugandan military is forcing LRA groups to move frequently and refrain from building permanent camps or planting crops. While on the run, LRA forces must spend more time finding food and trying to survive, leaving less time to invest in training and indoctrinating new fighters.
However, can we conclude from these trends that the LRA’s integration of children into their ranks will decline indefinitely, or that the LRA’s fighting capacity has been permanently reduced? The short answer is likely no, and we’ve got another blog coming next week that will further examine trends in LRA abduction strategies and their implications for DDRRR efforts and military operations.
*Photo courtesy of The Guardian
Today we released the 2012 LRA Crisis Tracker Mid-Year Security Brief, which analyzes trends and patterns in LRA activity from January – June 2012. You can download a pdf of the report here, or quickly flip through the slides on the Speaker Deck plug-in above. A brief synopsis of the key points below:
LRA violence escalated significantly compared to late 2011: Reported attacks and abductions by the LRA doubled in the first six months of 2012 relative to the latter half of 2011. A vast majority of reported LRA attacks occurred in northern Democratic Republic of Congo (155), with concentrations west and south of Garamba National Park. LRA attacks also increased significantly in southeast Central African Republic, with as many reported attacks in the first half of 2012 (35) as in all of 2011.
LRA abductions are increasing, but trends indicate they’re mostly porters, not future child soldiers: LRA killings may be decreasing, but reported LRA abductions increased by 127% from 137 in the latter half of 2011 to 311 in the first half of 2012. However, several trends in abductions from January –June 2012 indicate that the LRA is mostly targeting people to carry looted goods, not to train as future fighters:
-47.6% of all reported abductees escaped or were released within 72 hours of being abducted, indicating the LRA is not able or interested to train them to become fighters;
-Of abductions in which age and/or gender was recorded, 70.6% were adults and 67.3% were males, indicating that LRA forces are targeting adult males most capable of carrying heavy loads of looted goods.
LRA attacks are getting less deadly: Though LRA attacks are up, they are killing far fewer people than in previous years. Only 10% of reported LRA attacks included a civilian death in the first half of 2012, compared with 30% in 2011 and 34.7% in 2010. Similarly, the LRA reportedly killed an average of 0.2 people per attack in the first half of 2012, compared with 0.52 in 2011 and 1.5 in 2010. LRA killings were particularly rare in Congo, where they killed 12 people in 155 attacks, averaging 0.08 deaths per attack.
The LRA could be trafficking in illegal ivory: The LRA has long been known for avoiding trade in illegal minerals or goods. However, park rangers working in Garamba National Park in northern Congo reportedly found significant evidence of LRA forces trafficking in illegal ivory from poached elephants in the first half of 2012. Park rangers confiscated elephant tusks from suspected LRA forces in May, and an escapee from an LRA group in Garamba witnessed LRA combatants with tusks as well. Reports have also emerged of LRA poaching elephants for tusks across the border in CAR.
LRA violence in CAR spiked following Ugandan military operations: Ugandan military forces reportedly lost the trail of LRA groups operating in southeast CAR for much of late 2011. However, in early 2012, Ugandan troops operating there began placing more direct pressure on LRA groups operating in the remote forested areas west of Djemah, CAR. In the weeks following this pressure, LRA attacks on communities surrounding this reserve increased significantly, with 25 reported attacks on civilians in March 2012 alone. Reported attacks on civilians in CAR dropped from April – June, though Ugandan troops continue to pursue LRA groups there.
Other armed groups may be taking advantage of insecurity caused by the LRA: In addition to the 190 reported LRA attacks in the first half of 2012, the Crisis Tracker recorded 59 attacks by unknown perpetrators. The perpetrators for these attacks could be LRA forces, rogue military personnel, or bandits. Attacks by unknown armed groups were concentrated in Congo’s Haut Uele district, where reports of bandits committing copycat LRA attacks are highest.
Caesar Achellam taken into custody, sparks further defections: On May 12, Ugandan soldiers took Caesar Achellam, one of the most senior remaining LRA officers, into custody along the border between Congo and CAR after pursuing his group for several weeks. At least eight more LRA members defected as a result of Achellam’s capture over the next six weeks. This included Achellam’s bodyguard, who escaped on June 26 with five other LRA officers after being blamed for allowing Achellam to escape. Overall, 149 people either escaped or defected from the LRA from January – June 2012.
P.S. To find out more about the methodology used to vet, verify, and categorize incidents that are recorded in the LRA Crisis Tracker, see page 12 of the 2012 Mid-Year Security Brief, or read the LRA Crisis Tracker Map Methodology and Database Codebook v1.3.
In recent months the M23 rebellion has severely destabilized eastern Congo, displacing 260,000 people in North Kivu province and raising doubts about whether Congolese troops can maintain control of key towns such as Goma. In an attempt to stem the advance of the M23 rebels, Congolese officials decided two weeks ago to redeploy the US-trained 391st Congolese battalion from LRA-affected areas of northern Congo to North Kivu. Congolese military positions along the major roads between Aba, Dungu, and Duru–roads that have been one of the main targets of LRA attacks over the past two years–are reportedly being abandoned.
The decision has sparked an outcry among civil society leaders in Dungu, northern Congo, who fear dire consequences if these troops, who in many cases are the only thing standing between civilians and the LRA, are removed. “The authorities are trying to nurture ambitions to destabilize the region again,” said the president of a civil society group, urging the government to reverse its decision.
The 391st battalion of the Congolese military has played an important role in protecting civilians since being deployed in northern Congo in mid-2011. They have also behaved better than other Congolese troops deployed in LRA-affected areas, who often commit abuses against the very civilians they are tasked with protecting. Congolese civil society delegates Father Benoit and Sister Angelique, who recently travelled to Washington, DC to brief US officials on the LRA crisis, both voiced support for US efforts to train the 391st battalion in its efforts against the LRA during their trip.
The withdrawal of the 391st battalion comes at a time when LRA violence against Congolese civilians is sharply escalating. After reportedly committing 71 attacks against civilians and abducting 77 people in Congo in the latter half of 2011, LRA forces reportedly committed 155 attacks and abducted 222 people in Congo in the first half of 2012. LRA attacks this year have been concentrated in Haut Uele district, particularly along the road from Dungu towards Aba, from which troops from the 391st are being pulled. Though Congolese policymakers have difficult decisions to make about where to deploy their troops given the threat posed by M23 and LRA rebels, leaving Congolese communities more vulnerable to LRA attacks than they already are should not be an option.
Resolve and Invisible Children today released our first-ever LRA Crisis Tracker Annual Security Brief (French version available here). Based on data collected throughout the year from NGO and UN reports, field research, and HF early-warning radio networks, the report reviews LRA activity during 2011 in the tri-border region between DR Congo, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic (CAR).
It’s full of detailed analysis on LRA activity, but we’d like to point out a few highlights here. In 2011, there were 284 reported LRA attacks (that’s more than 5 per week), during which LRA forces reportedly killed 144 civilians and abducted 595 others. 426 people reportedly escaped from the LRA in 2011, and there were even net losses in LRA recruitment (more people escaped than were abducted) in July, November, and December of 2011.
Our data show several interesting trends in LRA activity. First, there were significant reductions in attacks, killings, and abductions in 2011 compared to 2010: LRA killings dropped by 75.8%, abductions by 47.3%, and attacks by 32.4%. Second, LRA violence decreased over the course of 2011 itself: the vast majority of the LRA’s attacks were in the first half of the year, and killings dropped by 83.9% in the second half of the year. Third, over 75% of LRA attacks in 2011occurred in Congo, far away from where LRA leader Joseph Kony and many of his top commanders were believed to be operating.
Though attacks levels have decreased, it’s clear that the LRA remains a dangerous threat to civilians across this region. Furthermore, we can’t assume the LRA is weakening or losing its capacity to commit atrocities. Reducing violence could be an intentional move by the LRA to evade international attention, a strategy they’ve employed before. Interestingly, reports indicate that between July and September of 2011 Kony summoned LRA commanders in Congo to a rendezvous in CAR, a period which roughly corresponds with when LRA attacks began to decrease in 2011.
Be sure to regularly check out the Crisis Tracker, our online crisis mapping platform and data collection system, for real-time updates about LRA attacks. The interactive map and site have lots more information about these and other LRA incidents, including media reports, statistics, and other briefings analyzing trends. You can also follow our tweets and download the free iPhone app to stay up-to-date on the latest LRA activity