Where has Kony been hiding? The ultimate question. We recently partnered with The Resolve LRA Crisis Initiative and the Enough Project to produce a detailed and lengthy report to try to answer it. Hidden in Plain Sight: Sudan’s Harboring of the LRA in the Kafia Kingi Enclave, 2009-2013 can be viewed in full [HERE] and is summarized below by yours truly.
After two decades, Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) left Uganda for good in 2006. Growing evidence indicates that the government of Sudan has allowed Kony and a large LRA group to hide in the Kafia Kingi enclave, one of the disputed areas on the border between Sudan and South Sudan, from 2009 to at least early 2013. The enclave is in a Sudanese-controlled territory that the African Union (AU) or the United States (US) does not have permission to enter. As long as Sudan permits it, the small enclave can serve as a safe haven from where Kony and senior LRA commanders are able to avoid their pursuers.
“As long as Kony is able to find a safe haven in Sudan, he can avoid pursuit by Ugandan forces by simply crossing the border whenever they get close,” said Michael Poffenberger, Executive Director of The Resolve LRA Crisis Initiative and one of the report’s primary authors. “Sudan should not be allowed to harbor one of the most brutal and notorious war criminals in the world with impunity.”
Sudanese government officials have consistently denied allegations of LRA presence in Kafia Kingi despite the considerable evidence to the contrary. This paper provides the most definitive documentation to date of Sudan’s renewed ties to the LRA. It cites interviews with eight LRA defectors who were eyewitnesses to LRA movements into Sudanese-controlled territory, four of whom provided separate accounts of Kony’s presence and activities there. These testimonies are corroborated by satellite imagery analysis, and additional interviews conducted with local civil society leaders and representatives from the UN, the AU, and regional governments and military forces.
“International efforts to arrest Kony and stop LRA attacks are likely to fail unless the African Union and regional leaders secure Sudan’s full cooperation,” said Paul Ronan, Director of Policy at The Resolve and another primary author.
The bottom line is this: In order to adequately protect civilians and bring LRA violence to an end once and for all, regional and international governments must engage the government of Sudan and ensure that the LRA can no longer find safe haven in Sudan-controlled territory. Addressing this issue with Sudan will be a litmus test for how committed regional and international leaders are to bringing this conflict to an end.