Invisible Children’s conflict analysis experts have identified and exposed an alarming trend in violent abductions in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Between March 1 and April 18, 2019, armed groups, including the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), abducted at least 99 people in the Bas Uele and Haut Uele provinces of DRC. This is a sharp increase compared to information collected over the last year and thousands of Congolese civilians remain at risk.
Using the Crisis Tracker (our conflict mapping and analysis tool) and information collected via our Early Warning Network, we identified this trend, which was previously unreported and which otherwise would likely have gone unnoticed and unaddressed. We then issued special alerts to Congolese communities and to local and international organizations operating in the region via the Early Warning Network and Crisis Tracker email and WhatsApp alert systems.
Communities in this region have faced violence and exploitation at the hands of armed groups like the LRA for decades and they remain vulnerable today.
Read the report below for more information on the recent rise in abductions by armed groups, including the LRA, in northeastern DRC.
Crisis Tracker Special Alert: April 18, 2019
The following information is as of April 18, 2019.
The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has been active in northeastern DRC since 2005, and has abducted more than 4,800 men, women, and children since then. Unidentified armed groups have been responsible for hundreds of additional abductions during that time period. Abductions have decreased steadily in recent years, and in 2018 the Crisis Tracker documented 155 total civilian abductions by the LRA and unidentified armed groups in the Uele provinces.
However, abductions by armed groups have spiked in the Uele provinces since March 1, 2019, with LRA forces abducting 81 civilians and unidentified armed groups responsible for an additional 18 abductions. A majority of recorded abductions were of adults forced to temporarily porter looted goods into the bush before escaping or being released within days. At least 22 abductees are children, most of whom remain missing and presumably remain in captivity. Dozens of other civilians have been looted of food and other goods during the attacks. In total, at least 136 people have been abducted in the Uele provinces since January 1, nearly equaling the total number of abductions in all of 2018.
The recent surge of violence comes at a time when the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) is significantly reducing its presence and capacity to protect civilians in the Uele provinces.
Invisible Children has worked with community partners in the region to issue special alerts via the Early Warning Network to Congolese communities in areas most affected by the recent surge in violence. We also continue to work with communities in the region and nearby in eastern Central African Republic (CAR) to develop individualized community action plans, in order to support local efforts to reduce vulnerability to violence. However, the mobility of armed groups and the isolation that characterizes most communities in the region creates ongoing risks for thousands of civilians.
Your support ensures that we can continue to expose trends like this rise in abductions, alert communities with life-saving information, and help them take steps to proactively reduce their risks and prevent violence.