In the Central African Republic (CAR) Joseph Kony’s LRA is one among several armed groups. Many areas of CAR where the LRA is present are in the control of one central African armed group or another.
Not only does this mean that central African communities face greater risk of violence, it also means that even when someone escapes LRA captivity in CAR, they remain in danger. In fact, LRA escapees who are not reunited with their families are very vulnerable to violence, abduction, and recruitment into other armed groups.
In March 2017, Louis* was abducted by LRA fighters from his home in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In the three months following his abduction, the LRA forced Louis to travel nearly 300 miles across the border from DRC into CAR. Along the way, Louis was forced to carry heavy loads and loot communities just like his own under threat of punishment and death.
One night in June 2017, Louis’s LRA group was attacked by a local armed group. In the chaos, Louis managed to escape his LRA captors. But, within just days, members of the central African armed group whose attack had aided his escape found him and Louis was once again taken prisoner. He was held captive by them for a full year all the while subjected to torture and forced labor.
Then in July, a team of Invisible Children staff and partners visited a nearby community where we learned of Louis’ situation. We immediately began working to support efforts help Louis, within a few days, he was set free.
Upon his release, we worked with trusted members of the local community to arrange a host family in a safe location before bringing Louis to the Invisible Children-supported reunification center. Once he arrived at the reunification center, our team there began work to locate his family. After a few days, Louis was able to speak with his family for the first time since his abduction, using high-frequency radios in our Early Warning Network.
Today, Louis is staying with a host family in Obo as our team works to arrange his travel back across the border into DRC and home again. In 2019, we will reunite Louis with his family. And, with your help, we can help former captives like him come home and help prevent thousands more children from experiencing violence and abduction in central Africa.
This holiday season, as many of us gather together to celebrate with loved ones, join us in standing with those who are still far from home. Give to Invisible Children and help ensure that next year more central African children spend the holidays with their families.
*Louis’s name has been changed.