The notorious rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is carrying out ever more deadly attacks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and also continues to abduct children to use as soldiers in its ranks, United Nations aid workers reported today.
The rebels have murdered an average of 102 civilians every month in the DRC’s Orientale province since last December, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said, compared with an average of 64 per month in the previous two years.
At least 302 people – including 125 children – were also abducted between last December and March this year, and “a significant” number of civilians were mutilated during LRA attacks against villages, OCHA reported.
The LRA, which fought Government forces in neighbouring Uganda for two decades starting in the mid-1980s, has increasingly moved into the remote northeast of the DRC in recent years and started conducting raids there.
Known for particularly brutal attacks against civilians, and for using abducted children as soldiers, porters and sex slaves, the LRA stands accused of numerous human rights abuses. Most of its senior leadership has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on various war crimes charges.
The recent series of attacks in Orientale province have forced thousands of civilians to flee their villages and complicated the efforts of aid workers to provide relief in a poor and isolated region of the DRC.
“The problem of children associated with armed forces and groups remains an issue of high concern,” OCHA stressed. “Out of 699 known children kidnapped by the LRA since 2008, 520 have escaped and are receiving support and assistance” from humanitarian workers.
Only $251 million – or about 30 per cent – of the $827 million sought by aid agencies in the humanitarian funding appeal for the DRC has been received so far, OCHA added.