The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) remains a persistent threat to civilians in eastern Central African Republic (CAR) and northern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), even as Joseph Kony’s authority has waned and the command structure has splintered. The Early Warning Network, supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development as part of the Community Resilience in Central Africa (CRCA) Activity has documented the LRA’s continued targeting of civilians, including the abduction of 153 people in northern DRC and eastern CAR from January–May 2020. While the majority of the abductees were utilized to porter looted goods and subsequently released, 13 children abducted during this period remain captive.
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Joseph Kony’s weakening grip
Four recent LRA defectors have testified that Kony’s group continues to operate in Sudan’s Kafia Kingi enclave, with the most recent eyewitness testimony placing him there as of May 2020. The defectors reported that Kony was in good health and that his group survives primarily by subsistence farming and bartering goods, such as honey, at local markets. According to recent defectors, Kony has lost control over some LRA commanders operating in CAR and DRC and that many members of these splinter groups are interested in defecting.
LRA splinter groups
Recent attacks carried out along the DRC-CAR border were carried out by LRA splinter groups led by Ugandan commanders that broke away from Kony. These groups operate between eastern CAR and northern DRC. Defectors and Central African civilians confirm that the Achaye Doctor splinter group, which split from Joseph Kony’s command in 2014, is now based in CAR’s Haut Mbomou prefecture. As of April 2020, another LRA splinter group had settled south of Mboki, CAR, on the Congolese side of the border. The leader of this group is a Ugandan referred to as “Kidega”, but his full identity remains unclear. A splinter group led by Owila, a former Kony confidante, was operational around Nambia, DRC, in April 2019. The splinter groups are in communication with each other, according to recent defectors, and may coordinate joint operations
LRA splinter groups target civilians in CAR and DRC
LRA splinter groups looted over 135 people from January–May 2020 and abducted 153 others, most of whom were adults released after being forced to porter looted goods. However, 13 abducted children remain missing and presumed in captivity. LRA lootings and abductions substantially escalated in April and May 2020, which may have been partially motivated by the need to replenish supplies before the rainy season and ranks following a surge in defections of children and youth in early 2020.
The Crisis Tracker is a project of Invisible Children that incorporates data on armed group activity in the Mbomou-Uele border region, a geographic area that includes the prefectures of Haute Kotto, Mbomou, and Haut Mbomou in eastern CAR and areas of Haut Uele and Bas Uele provinces in northeastern DRC north of the Uele River. Information on armed group activity from neighboring areas of CAR, DRC, South Sudan, and Sudan is incorporated into our analysis of conflict dynamics in the Mbomou-Uele border region. Visit the Crisis Tracker website at www.crisistracker.org
Some programs described in this blog are made possible with the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this post are the sole responsibility of Invisible Children and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.