Last month, we released our LRA Crisis Tracker 2017 Annual Brief, which highlights trends in violence in central Africa’s Mbomou Uele border region. For several years, Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has roamed this region, which spans the border of eastern Central African Republic (CAR) and northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In 2017, while LRA violence in the region was lower than in the previous year, a sharp increase in violence against civilians by other armed groups left hundreds dead and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes in search of safety.
Reports like this one are only possible through the invaluable contributions of locally-led Peace Committees in communities across the Mbomou Uele border region. Every day, these brave and dedicated leaders share security information with one another and with our LRA Crisis Tracker team through the Early Warning Radio Network. Equipped with this up-to-date information, local communities, humanitarians, conservation actors, and security forces are able to mobilize immediate action that saves lives like Daniel’s;* a young Congolese man who was severely wounded in an attack by armed poachers in January of 2017.
Using information collected through daily Early Warning Radio Network calls, our LRA Crisis Tracker team is able to identify trends in violence. Through reports like this one, we then share analysis with security actors and policymakers who are able to use LRA Crisis Tracker information and analysis to more effectively address armed group violence and its causes to save countless lives.
Read a summary of the LRA Crisis Tracker 2017 Annual Brief below or read the full report here.
Armed group violence escalated considerably in the Mbomou Uele border region in 2017 compared to 2016, killing hundreds of civilians while forcing tens of thousands of others to flee their homes and alter or abandon livelihood strategies. In total, Invisible Children’s LRA Crisis Tracker project recorded 272 attacks against civilians in 2017 in the Mbomou Uele border region, which includes the prefectures of Haute Kotto, Mbomou, and Haut Mbomou in eastern Central African Republic (CAR) and the provinces of Haut Uele and Bas Uele in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
In eastern CAR, ex-Seleka and anti-balaka combatants greatly expanded their areas of operation, taking advantage of the withdrawal of troops from Uganda and the United States from Mbomou and Haut Mbomou following the end of operations to pursue the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Ex-Seleka and anti-balaka groups were not only responsible for massive human rights violations, their attacks escalated intercommunal tensions that sparked violence committed by armed civilians not affiliated with armed groups. They also frequently targeted humanitarian actors and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA), killing a total of 13 peacekeepers in the three prefectures in 2017.
In an encouraging trend, abductions by the LRA in eastern CAR dropped by 70% from 2016 to 2017. LRA groups did frequently attack remote artisanal mining areas in Haute Kotto prefecture, an area in which defectors reported that LRA leader Joseph Kony continued to operate.
Civilians in DRC’s Haut Uele and Bas Uele provinces were threatened primarily by transnational armed actors, including the LRA, armed poachers,and South Sudanese militias. LRA attacks on civilians in Haut Uele peaked from May-August as an LRA group traveled to and from Garamba National Park, where it collected ivory under orders from Kony. This trend, as well as other attacks on civilians by poachers in Haut Uele, highlighted the link between human and wildlife security in the region.
Armed group activity in the Mbomou Uele border region had massive ripple effects on the lives of civilians in 2017, forcing many to abandon, limit, or alter their livelihood strategies. Disaggregated data on attacks against civilians recorded in 2017 demonstrates clear patterns in the risks civilians face based on their location and exposure to specific armed groups. In CAR, attacks by ex-Seleka factions and anti-balaka groups primarily targeted civilians in communities. LRA attacks in both CAR and DRC were more likely to target civilians as they traveled along roads (often to and from markets) or were hunting, fishing, farming, or herding cattle in remote, sparsely populated areas.
*Daniel’s name has been changed and his face blurred to protect his identity.
This report is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this report are the sole responsibility of Invisible Children and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.