This week we released our newest LRA Crisis Tracker report together with our partners at The Resolve LRA Crisis Initiative. The State of the LRA in 2016 highlights key trends in the movements and tactics of Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) over the past year.
The report analyzes information collected via the LRA Crisis Tracker, an online data collection and analysis platform that aggregates credible reports of LRA activity (sightings, attacks, defections, etc) provided primarily by the brave community volunteers who are part of Invisible Children’s Early Warning Network, as well as information provided by the United Nations, local and international NGOs, and firsthand accounts of LRA victims and defectors. As our CEO, Lisa Dougan and Paul Ronan of The Resolve explain in an editorial published by Newsweek Magazine this month, the unprecedented ability to expose Kony’s violence in such remote areas of central Africa thanks to community reporting, and the alarming trends that these reports reveal, profoundly underscores the continued need for systems like the Early Warning Network. Consider donating today to strengthen and expand this lifesaving program.
WHAT THE REPORT SAYS:
In 2015, the LRA was active in Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan, and in Sudanese-controlled areas of South Darfur and the disputed Kafia Kingi enclave, where Kony frequently finds safe haven. Over the course of the year, the LRA engaged in 203 attacks on communities, fewer than in 2014, and abducted 612 people, more than in both 2012 and 2013.
While attacks in 2015 were less violent than in the past, a surge of more violent attacks in eastern CAR in 2016, including the abduction of dozens of children, many of whom have yet to return home, highlights the grave threat the LRA continues to pose to civilians.
The report also highlights that LRA attacks and abductions persist in DRC, driven by the poaching of elephants for their ivory tusks, which are used to fund continued LRA violence.
Despite the high profile defections of Dominic Ongwen in January of 2015 and Okot Odek earlier this year, both high-ranking members of the LRA, fewer LRA fighters have escaped in recent years than we have seen in the past. This, coupled with the presence of an LRA splinter group in northeastern DRC, highlights the continued need for community protection and detection efforts in the region.
WHAT IT MEANS:
The State of the LRA in 2016 reveals trends in LRA activity that underscore two urgent needs in LRA-affected communities that must be addressed to successfully end LRA violence.
First, we must strengthen and expand the Early Warning Network to include remote communities that are not currently able to access or share information on LRA activity.
The Early Warning Network continues to be a critical, life-saving system that literally and figuratively puts extraordinarily remote communities “on the map,” by enabling them, for the first time, to communicate with each other and the world when they are at risk of LRA violence or other threats. As a result, these historically isolated communities are able to better protect themselves from violence, and together with them, we are able to ensure that the international community hears their voices and cannot deny their suffering.
Using the information and analysis provided by the Early Warning Network and the LRA Crisis Tracker, policymakers are able to make more informed decisions about how to protect communities and address LRA violence, and local community members are able to be central agents in exposing Kony’s crimes.
Of course, our work isn’t done. There are many communities targeted by the LRA that are not yet part of the Early Warning network. With your help, we’re working to change that.
Secondly, we must continue recording and broadcasting ‘Come Home’ messages that encourage LRA fighters to peacefully surrender.
The increase in abductions of children who have yet to return home is very concerning and may indicate a renewed efforts by Kony to replenish his ranks by ordering his forces to recruit child soldiers. We also know that there continue to be many long-term members of the LRA who want to escape, but need encouragement to do so and assurances that they will be received safely. That means continuous, far-reaching ‘Come Home’ messages throughout central Africa is more important now than ever.
Invisible Children’s ‘Come Home’ FM radio broadcasts have been proven to effectively and peacefully dismantle the LRA from within by combatting Kony’s lies and the misinformation that prevent LRA fighters from escaping. With your support, we can reach even more of Kony’s captives with the encouragement and information they need to leave the battlefield once and for all.
Media Coverage of The State of the LRA in 2016 report