SUDAN WATCH: Uganda, DRCongo seek new ways to fight insurgents - Nun offers refuge in Sudan - Religious leaders call on UN - LRA wants peace talks resumed

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Uganda, DRCongo seek new ways to fight insurgents - Nun offers refuge in Sudan - Religious leaders call on UN - LRA wants peace talks resumed

BEFORE glancing through the following round-up of 21 news reports regarding the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army), please click here (and wait for short advert to end) to view an important video report at TIME.com by Ed Robbins reporting from Western Equatoria, south Sudan. The report, entitled "NUN OFFERS REFUGE FROM VIOLENCE IN SUDAN", features Sister Giovanna, mother superior at a Catholic mission in Ezo, South Sudan, who provides refuge for villagers fleeing vicious attacks by soldiers of the LRA.

I say, compassion is the greatest healer. Upon viewing the video I wanted to reach out my hands and shake Sister Giovanna's hand and give her a big hug for being so compassionate and courageous in speaking out and asking important questions. I think people who are abducted and enslaved by the LRA should be viewed as victims and prisoners of war in urgent need of rescuing and a care plan that includes treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I am still thinking of poor Moses, wondering who is helping him deal with his nightmares.
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Uganda, DRCongo seek new ways to fight insurgents
From AFP
Sunday, 19 September 2010
(KAMPALA) - Defence leaders from Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are meeting Sunday in Kampala to discuss new ways to combat rebel groups in the region, notably the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

"We will discuss security matters, especially border insurgency by negative forces, the Lord's Resistance Army and others," Ugandan Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga told AFP.

"We expect this meeting to come up with comprehensive measures to deal with negative forces to ensure there is peace in the region, and to see that there is smooth movement of goods and services between the two countries," he added. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in two decades of fighting since LRA chief Joseph Kony took up arms, initially against the Ugandan government.

Long since driven out of Uganda, the guerrillas have carved out a vast region of control in the dense forests of northeast DR Congo, as well as southern Sudan and the Central African Republic, and their insurgency has been marked by appalling violence against civilians.
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Uganda, Congo discuss new plot against LRA
From The New Vision (www.newvision.co.ug) by Henry Mukasa
Sunday, 19 September, 2010
UGANDA and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have vowed to work together to annihilate the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels who are threatening the security of the two countries.

Defence minister Dr. Crispus Kiyonga and DRC’s defence and veterans’ minister Charles Mwando made the declaration after a meeting in Munyonyo on Saturday.

The ministers met under the Ngurdoto agreement signed by President Yoweri Museveni and his counterpart, Joseph Kabila in Tanzania on September 8, 2007. The ministers will meet again in November.

According to a statement, the ministers reviewed the security situation along the border and commended each other for the joint operations against the LRA rebels in Congo.

They also thanked each other for the on-going operations against the Alliance Defence Forces (ADF) leaders in Eastern DRC.

“In this respect, they agreed to do everything possible to neutralise Joseph Kony, his group, and the ADF rebels,” the statement said.

Kony is the leader of the LRA rebels, who fought an atrocious war in northern Uganda, maiming, looting property, raping and abducting people.

Kiyonga stated that Uganda was ready to support efforts against lawless Ugandans destabilising peace and security in the region.

Mwando thanked the Ugandan government for arresting rebels like Gen. Gadi Ngabo. Ngabo, the leader of the Patriotic Front in Congo, had declared war on the government of Joseph Kabila, claiming it had failed to keep its promises.

Uganda offered training space at its military academies to DRC forces.

Yesterday, Mwando visited the Kimaka Senior Command and Staff College in Jinja. He was briefed on the history, objectives, course modules and administrative structure of the college.
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Bishops tell US leaders military option won't work against rebels
From Sunday Monitor (www.monitor.co.ug) by Mark Kirumira, Washington
Friday, 17 September 2010 at 06:45
Two Ugandan bishops have told US officials that regional dialogue with the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels would work better than a military option against it.

"The issue is no longer the LRA and Uganda," Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu told Catholic News Service in Washington on Wednesday. "The issue now is regional."

Archbishop Odama has headed the Gulu Archdiocese in northern Uganda since 1999 and, during that time, has worked to end hostilities between the UPDF and the LRA.

He travelled to Washington with Anglican Bishop MacLeord Baker Ochola II, retired bishop of Kitgum.

The bishops recently said they do not oppose the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, which US President Barack Obama signed into law in May, but were urging US officials to end the use of force in dealing with the LRA.

The cited numerous occasions on which force did not work against the rebel group.
Efforts by the government to make peace with the rebels, on four times, through dialogue have yielded nothing with LRA leader Joseph Kony refusing to sign the peace agreement --- the last being in 2007.

The break in the talks forced the UPDF to launch an operation christened Lightening Thunder on the rebels’ bases in DR Congo.

But an LRA rebels’ delegation has reportedly written to the United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-Moon appealing for the resumption of the talks with the government.

The bishops met with State Department officials, who have until November to develop a strategy for disarming the LRA and they also met with congressional leaders.

"We are afraid," Archbishop Odama said.

"Let us bring [their] leaders together -- the new stakeholders."

Bishop Ochola said those opposed to peace -- those who advocate continued fighting -- should also be invited to the dialogue. He said the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative leaders have offered to mediate multiple times.

Since late 2008, the LRA have killed more than 2,500 civilians in southern Sudan. About 90,000 Sudanese in Western Equatoria province have been displaced from their homes, and 25,000 refugees from Congo and Central African Republic have sought refuge in the province.

Archbishop Odama and Bishop Ochola said capturing or killing Kony would not necessarily end the conflict, because the situation is so complex and includes splinter groups and tribal conflicts.

Kony and his bandits have shifted their base from northern Uganda and now operate in southern Sudan, Congo and the Central African Republic.
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Army dismisses rebel call for fresh talks
From The New Vision (www.newvision.co.ug)
Friday, 17 September, 2010
THE army says calls by the Lords Resistance Army rebels to the UN to initiate fresh peace talks with the government is diversionary and intended to buy time.

UPDF 4th Division Intelligence Officer, Major Victor Opira says peace talks between the government and the LRA were concluded and what is remaining is for the LRA leader, Joseph Kony to sign the final peace agreement document.

He says government is aware that the LRA is not serious and has always wanted to seek for survival means.

Opira also revealed that the strength and capacity of the LRA have greatly been reduced and weakened in the recent operations against the LRA.
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South Sudan army calls for quick provision of security information
From Sudan Tribune (www.sudantribune.com) by Ngor Arol Garang
Friday, 17 September 2010
September 16, 2010 (MALAKAL) - The Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) on Thursday called for the quick and timely provision of security information, saying that delays in passing on sensitive information to relevent authorities in the region, such as that relating to security, results in delays in crucial intervention.



Photo: SPLA spokesperson Gen Kuol Deim Kuol (Photo Ajang Monychol)

Kuol Deim Kuol, official spokesman of the SPLA told Sudan Tribune from Juba that the latest Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) attack in western Equatoria, occurred just eight miles away from Yambio, capital of the state and the information about their presence was not passed onto the SPLA forces in the area early enough.

The LRA is a northern Ugandan rebel group with no coherent demands which continues to commit atrocities across the region. At its centre is a messianic cult around its leader, the International Criminal Court charged, Josephy Kony.

“It was made known to our forces after the emergence of reports that civilians have sighted them moving about in the area before the attack,” said Kuol. He explained that the provision of information is important as it helps in preparation and proper positioning of armed forces, in order to provide quick and timely intervention.

“You see, in Western Bahr el Ghazal, LRA has limited activities because once elements associated with it are sighted by the civilians; they give information very fast to our forces. This is what is required. Cooperation in coordination and provision of security is very important,” he added.

Kuol pointed out that the LRA is active in the area, especially in the two counties of Nzara and Yambio because of lack coordination and information sharing. “We have deployed enough manpower but this is not what counts. What counts is not the number of security forces but provision of information on time and logistics. There is need for cooperation in this area,” he added.

Kuol also expressed concern over the presence of the LRA off southern soil: “The LRA operates from the Democratic Republic of Congo and our forces have no mandate to enter DRC territory. This is one. The other issue is logistics for the movement of our forces. The last and most important of all is provision of information on time. Intelligence play central role and this is what counts.”

He made an appeal following a report urging the ministry of SPLA and veteran affairs by the regional parliament to increase deployment of the armed forces in Western Equatoria State.

On Wednesday Aleu Ayieny Aleu, chair of the special committee for security and public order responded to a motion previously raised by Bernado K. Martin, a member of parliament, on increased activities and operation of LRA in the area.

The security and public order report was deliberated by undersecretary of the ministry of SPLA and veteran affairs, Bior Ajang and Obote Mamur on behalf of the SPLA chief of general staff, reulsting in eight recommendations.

The committee noted that the inaccessibility of roads was leading to the formation of LRA hideouts. That it is operating in Democratic Republic of Congo and Southern Darfur in Sudan. Lack of coordination and sharing of information on operation and activities of the LRA at the border areas was observed.

The comittee report also indicated that the LRA has established close relationships with unlawful groups, citing cattle raiders and nomads like Ombororo. TIt also suggested that the LRA is receiving logistical and military support from Khartoum’s Sudanese Armed Forces through its liaison office in South Darfur.

It accused the ruling National Congress Party of colloding with the LRA to destabilize the region by undermining the implementation of the CPA in regard to the preperations for the upcoming referendum.

To maintain peace in the region, the parliament recommended that the SPLA end the armed incursion of the LRA and Ombororo nomads wandering about in the region and called on the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) to make every effort to support operations of the armed forces, particularly in combating the LRA.

The parliament further urged the ministry of SPLA and veteran affairs to increase the number of the armed forces in the area, to prevent flow of illegal arms and movement, as well as to monitor allegations of the smuggling of arms.

It called for the construction of security roads in order to facilitate the quick movement of the military against illegal armed groups in the region, in particular the LRA.

The regional parliament finally called on the SPLM controlled GoSS to lead regional efforts to combat rebels, in collaboration with the Khartoum’s Government of National Unity, Uganda, Democratic of Congo and Central Africa Republic and in the hope of mediating peace with the LRA. (ST)
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The Invisible Children Organization Makes a Stop at South Walton High School
From www.wjhg.com
Thursday, 16 September 2010
These young members of the Invisible Children's Organization know that no child should live in fear of being abducted, mutilated, or killed. Activists groups are trying to shed light on the destruction caused by the longest running war in Africa's history ...
Reporter: Meagan O'Halloran
Email Address: meagan.ohalloran@wjhg.com
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Sudan: Stop the suffering - Bishop’s international call for fresh approach to LRA threat
From Aid to the Church in Need (members4.boardhost.com)
Press release by John Pontifex
Wednesday, 15 September 2010
CHURCH and civic representatives from four key African countries have signed a declaration appealing for international action to stop guerrilla forces terrorising the region.

About 30 community leaders made up of senior clergy and government representatives put their signature to a communiqué calling on national and international leaders to do more to prevent attacks by the Lords Resistance Army in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and the Central African Republic.

The declaration calls on the countries’ governments to work together to quell the LRA threat, demanding that further pressure on the four nations be applied by the EU, the UK, the USA and the UN.

Further articles outlined in the document include an appeal for more humanitarian support to help refugees and displaced people and there is a plea for a resumption of peace talks to bring the LRA threat to an end.



Photo: Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala of Tombura-Yambio, South Sudan

In an interview with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala of Tombura-Yambio, who organised the conference, stressed the continuing threat posed by the LRA.

Speaking yesterday (Tuesday, 14th September) at the end of the four-day meeting, Bishop Hiiboro underlined the need for international pressure to step up security in the region.

He told ACN: “We have been forgotten by our own government, forgotten by the international community and this means the LRA think they can do anything they like.

“Think of the number of people who have fled their homes, the number of people who have lost their lives and the number of people left as orphans.

“The whole state [of Western Equatoria] is living in panic – not just in South Sudan but in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. It is just too much.”

Bishop Hiiboro said a reminder of the LRA threat came just days before the conference got underway last week when eight people were hacked to death by machetes.

A further 14 were badly wounded, some seriously, during the attack which took place in Yambio, the regional capital of Western Equatoria State where the bishop is based and where the conference was held.

Stressing the gruesome violence typical of LRA attacks, Bishop Hiiboro said: “The impact of the LRA is terrible. There are huge numbers of refugees and displaced people trying to escape attack.

“They destroy property, leave children as orphans and, with so many leaving, there are no schools or social services.”

But, underlining the limitations of a military response to the LRA threat, he said: “We have seen what happens by following the military way.

“People continue to suffer and die. We want to say that we need another option – an option for peaceful dialogue.”

A year ago, the remains of six people were discovered nailed to a tree close to Yambio in an atrocity that was likened to a crucifixion scene. Again the LRA was implicated.

Amid widespread reports pointing to LRA collusion with Sudan President Omar al Bashir’s Islamist regime in the capital, Khartoum, Bishop Hiiboro said it was unclear who was backing the insurgents.

He added: “There are people who give them weapons, food and enable them to have telephone communications.

“It is difficult to say who helps them. It is obvious that they receive significant support because they are so very well equipped.”

The LRA issue is expected to have a major bearing on the outcome of the long-awaited referendum on the possible cessation of South Sudan, due in January.

At a time of continuing fear of attacks, reports have shown that voters are likely to be swayed by the government – be it the semi-autonomous administration in the south or the Khartoum-based government of national unity – best placed to bring the LRA threat to an end.
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Ugandan bishops tell US leaders military option won't work against rebels
From Catholic News Service (www.catholicnews.com) by Barb Fraze
Wednesday, 15 September 2010



Photo: Ugandan Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu gestures during an interview with Catholic News Service. Looking on is retired Ugandan Anglican Bishop Macleord Baker Ochola II. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)
WASHINGTON (CNS) - Two Ugandan bishops -- one Catholic and one Anglican -- traveled across Africa and the Atlantic to tell U.S. officials that regional dialogue with the Lord's Resistance Army would work better than a military option against it.

"The issue is no longer the LRA and Uganda," said Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu. "The issue now is regional."

Archbishop Odama has headed the Gulu Archdiocese in northern Uganda since 1999 and, during that time, has worked to end hostilities between the Ugandan military and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army, known for its brutality and especially for kidnapping children to use as soldiers and sex slaves. The LRA, once based in northern Uganda, has spread its operations to Southern Sudan, Congo and the Central African Republic.

The archbishop is president of the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative, an interfaith organization formed in the late 1990s to respond to the violence in northern Uganda, where the Acholi ethnic group is based. He traveled to Washington with one of the founding members of the organization, Anglican Bishop MacLeord Baker Ochola II, retired bishop of Kitgum.

Both men told Catholic News Service in mid-September that they do not oppose the Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law in May, but were urging U.S. officials to end the use of force in dealing with the LRA. The cited numerous occasions on which force did not work against the rebel group.

The bishops met with State Department officials, who have until November to develop a strategy for disarming the LRA. They also met with congressional leaders.

"We are afraid," Archbishop Odama told CNS. He said the LRA currently is involved in a conflict to destabilize Uganda's northern neighbor, Southern Sudan, which is scheduled to vote in January on whether to secede from Sudan.

Congo and the Central African Republic, two countries that border Southern Sudan, also have an interest in its stability, the archbishop said.

"Let us bring (their) leaders together -- the new stakeholders," he said. "We say: peaceful approach."

Bishop Ochola, whose daughter committed suicide in 1987 after being brutally attacked by the LRA, said those opposed to peace -- those who advocate continued fighting -- should also be invited to the dialogue.

He said the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative leaders have offered to mediate multiple times. In 2008, rebel leaders had begun negotiations when a Ugandan military offensive drove them into neighboring countries.

In early September, religious leaders from areas affected by the Lord's Resistance Army met in Southern Sudan to outline a path to peace. In a statement, the leaders said LRA atrocities gave "no sign whatsoever of being on the decrease."

The leaders said that in Southern Sudan, the LRA was attacking urban centers with "massive abductions, displacements and killings." They said they feared "enemies of peace" would use the LRA to prevent the secession referendum.

Since late 2008, the LRA has killed more than 2,500 civilians in Southern Sudan. About 90,000 Sudanese in Western Equatoria province have been displaced from their homes, and 25,000 refugees from Congo and Central African Republic have sought refuge in the province.

Archbishop Odama and Bishop Ochola said capturing or killing LRA leader Joseph Kony would not necessarily end the conflict, because the situation is so complex and includes splinter groups and tribal conflicts. They said adding to the complexity of the situation was that most LRA soldiers were kidnapped and are serving involuntarily.
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Response to Lord's Resistance Army Is "Haphazard"
From Rome's Zenit News (www.zenit.org)
Wednesday, 15 September 2010
YAMBIO, Sudan, SEPT. 15, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Religious and civic leaders from four nations are calling for negotiation and better coordination of international efforts to bring an end to two plus decades of terror caused by the Lord's Resistance Army.

Bishop Edward Hiiboro Kussala of Tombura-Yambio, in southern Sudan, organized a four-day meeting last week, which brought together some 60 representatives including delegations from Uganda, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic. Muslims and non-Catholic Christians were also present.

The 46-year-old bishop leads one of the dioceses most hard-hit by the Lord's Resistance Army. The Sudan Tribune reported that at least seven of his parishes have been badly attacked by the rebel group, which is known for brutality.

Bishop Hiiboro spoke Tuesday with Aid to the Church in Need about a reminder of the LRA threat when eight people were hacked to death by machetes in Yambio just days before the religious leaders' conference got under way in that city. Another 14 were badly wounded.

"The impact of the LRA is terrible," he said. "There are huge numbers of refugees and displaced people trying to escape attack.

“They destroy property, leave children as orphans and, with so many leaving, there are no schools or social services.”

Forgotten

The bishop, who has led the Diocese of Tombura-Yambio for just over two years, contended that "[w]e have been forgotten by our own government, forgotten by the international community and this means the LRA think they can do anything they like."

“Think of the number of people who have fled their homes, the number of people who have lost their lives and the number of people left as orphans," he said. “The whole state [of Western Equatoria] is living in panic -- not just in South Sudan but in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. It is just too much.”

Though Bishop Hiiboro said it is not clear who backs the army, it is clear that they are well-sponsored.

"There are people who give them weapons, food and enable them to have telephone communications," the bishop explained. "It is difficult to say who helps them. It is obvious that they receive significant support because they are so very well equipped."

Open door

A final statement with 30 signatories from the conference was released Sept. 10. The religious leaders cautioned against military "solutions," noting the dire effects of past efforts.

“The international community has so far failed to develop a comprehensive plan to deal with the LRA as a regional threat, instead addressing the crisis in a piecemeal and haphazard way in the four different countries,” the report stated.

It called for collaboration from the governments of the four nations terrorized by the LRA, and urged greater international pressure from the European Union, the United States and the United Nations.

Bishop Hiiboro told the Fides agency that he is advocating a political solution, which he just recommended in a meeting with the defense minister of Uganda.

"The LRA leader, [Joseph] Kony, has sent me a letter which was delivered to various other regional and international figures -- including the U.N. secretary-general -- saying that he is willing to enter into peace talks once more," the bishop noted. “Let's not close the door on negotiations."
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Bassole’ to Arrive Khartoum End Month for Advancing Government/Movements Talks From Sudan Vision Daily.com - Wednesday, September 15 @ 00:15:00 UTC by Staff Writer
...Government Spokesman Omer Adam Rahma, affirmed government's preparedness for negotiations, brushing aside the movement's accusations of government's attacks on its forces in cooperation with the LRA, adding that LRA was non existent in Darfur. He said, " Nobody can believe in the existence of the LRA troops there." ...
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LRA wants peace talks resumed
From The New Vision (www.newvision.co.ug) by Henry Mukasa
Monday, 13 September, 2010
THE residual LRA rebels’ delegation to the stalled Juba peace talks has written to the secretary general of the UN, Ban Ki-Moon, appealing for the resumption of negotiations with the Government.

In a September 6 letter, the LRA supporters asked the UN boss to take urgent steps to bring the peace talks back on track.

“The leadership of the LRA peace team makes an appeal to the UN secretary general for urgent action to revisit and once again attend to the peace question in Uganda so as to assist in reviving the stalled ‘Northern Uganda peace process,” a letter signed by Justine Labeja, the acting leader of the rebels peace team, stated.

The Government accused the LRA rebels of not being committed to the peace talks.

The Juba peace talks were the fourth time the Government had attempted to end the brutal northern Uganda war through peaceful means. In all attempts, the LRA leader, Joseph Kony, refused to sign the final peace agreement.

The LRA have fought an atrocious war in the north for nearly two decades, killing, maiming and raping people, and looting and torching homesteads.

During the Juba peace talks, the rebels said they were fighting marginalisation by the Government.

After the collapse of the peace talks in January 2007, the Government launched Operation Lightening Thunder on the LRA bases in the DR Congo. Several rebels were killed, captured or surrendered.

However, the rebel collaborators say the military offensive only spread war to the DRC, southern Sudan and the Central African Republic.

LRA top commanders were indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
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Top LRA commander moves to southern Sudan
From Bikyamasr.com
Monday, 13 September 2010
Testimony from former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) fighters who were recently captured near Yambio in Sudan’s Western Equatoria state indicates that a notorious LRA commander, Dominic Ongwen, recently crossed into Sudan from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ongwen, who was indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity and war crimes in 2005, is part of the LRA’s top leadership, second or third in command after leader Joseph Kony. BM
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Religious leaders call on UN to curb LRA activities
From Radio Miraya.org
Sunday, 12 September 2010 at 10:13


A rare 3-day meeting of about thirty religious and community leaders as well as local government officials from the Southern Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central Africa Republic, and Uganda has criticized the "lack of a coordinated and comprehensive strategy" to tackle the Lords Resistance Army (LRA).

This came after the leaders met in Yambio town of the Western Equatoria State. The recommendations of the conference called on the UN to intervene and be deployed as quickly as possible to the region in order to halt the LRA activities.
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Common front against Ugandan rebels urged
From Gulf Times.com
Sunday, 12 September 2010 at 12:14 AM Doha Time
(AFP/Khartoum) Co-ordinated action must be taken to end the long-running brutal campaign by the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels, leaders from the four countries affected said yesterday.

A rare three-day meeting of 30 religious and community leaders as well as local government officials from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), south Sudan, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Uganda criticised the “lack of a co-ordinated and comprehensive strategy” to tackle the rebels.

“The LRA is committing atrocities across very remote areas of already unstable nations,” read a joint statement following the meeting in the southern Sudanese town of Yambio, state capital of the badly affected Western Equatoria region.

Better co-ordination is needed, they warned, adding that “LRA atrocities give no sign whatsoever of being on the decrease.”

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in two decades of fighting since LRA chief Joseph Kony took up arms, initially against the Ugandan government.

Long since driven out of Uganda, the guerrillas have carved out a vast region of control in the dense forests of northeast DRC, south Sudan and CAR.

“DRC, Sudan and CAR all have internal conflicts that prevent them from sufficiently allocating their forces in a fight against the rebel group,” it added, calling on all national armies to work to boost troop deployment in affected areas.

“The international community has so far failed to develop a comprehensive plan to deal with the LRA as a regional threat, instead addressing the crisis in a piecemeal and haphazard way in the four different countries,” it added.

The signatories demanded that UN peacekeepers be given a “greater capacity to deploy quickly” in response to attacks.

However, the leaders praised the Washington administration for passing a law in May, which commits it to develop a strategy by the end of November to end the rebel campaign of carnage.

The LRA’s acts of startling brutality—including murder, rape, and the forced conscription of children—have forced more than 25,000 people to flee their homes in south Sudan alone since January, the UN says.

Many thousands more have been massacred, abducted or forced from their homes in CAR and DRC by the rebels, whose chiefs are wanted by the International Criminal Court.

The leaders yesterday also called for clarification of the Ugandan army’s role, which has led the hunt for LRA leaders across Sudan, DRC and CAR, since it launched a botched offensive following the collapse of peace talks.

The December 2008 Ugandan-led attacks smashed the rebels’ jungle hideouts in northeast DRC, but analysts suggest the LRA was tipped off and most fighters escaped beforehand, launching reprisal raids across a wide area as they fled.
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Uganda's LRA rebels 'must face African joint action'
From AFP by Peter Martell
Saturday, 11 September 2010 at 7:57 am ET
(KHARTOUM) - Coordinated action must be taken to end the long-running brutal campaign by the Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels, leaders from the four countries affected said on Saturday.

A rare three-day meeting of 30 religious and community leaders as well as local government officials from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), south Sudan, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Uganda criticised the "lack of a coordinated and comprehensive strategy" to tackle the rebels.

"The LRA is committing atrocities across very remote areas of already unstable nations," read a joint statement following the meeting in the southern Sudanese town of Yambio, state capital of the badly affected Western Equatoria region.

Better coordination is needed, they warned, adding that "LRA atrocities give no sign whatsoever of being on the decrease."

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in two decades of fighting since LRA chief Joseph Kony took up arms, initially against the Ugandan government.

Long since driven out of Uganda, the guerrillas have carved out a vast region of control in the dense forests of northeast DRC, south Sudan and CAR.

"DRC, Sudan and CAR all have internal conflicts that prevent them from sufficiently allocating their forces in a fight against the rebel group," it added, calling on all national armies to work to boost troop deployment in affected areas.

"The international community has so far failed to develop a comprehensive plan to deal with the LRA as a regional threat, instead addressing the crisis in a piecemeal and haphazard way in the four different countries," it added.

The signatories demanded that UN peacekeepers be given a "greater capacity to deploy quickly" in response to attacks.

However, the leaders praised the Washington administration for passing a law in May, which commits it to develop a strategy by the end of November to end the rebel campaign of carnage.

The LRA's acts of startling brutality -- including murder, rape, and the forced conscription of children -- have forced more than 25,000 people to flee their homes in south Sudan alone since January, the United Nations says.

Many thousands more have been massacred, abducted or forced from their homes in CAR and DRC by the rebels, whose chiefs are wanted by the International Criminal Court.

The leaders on Saturday also called for clarification of the Ugandan army's role, which has led the hunt for LRA leaders across Sudan, DRC and CAR, since it launched a botched offensive following the collapse of peace talks.

The December 2008 Ugandan-led attacks smashed the rebels' jungle hideouts in northeast DRC, but analysts suggest the LRA was tipped off and most fighters escaped beforehand, launching reprisal raids across a wide area as they fled.

The religious leaders on Saturday insisted that the "preferred sustainable solution is a negotiated settlement" of the LRA crisis "after decades of failed military interventions."

Meanwhile, reports suggest that Dominic Ongwen -- the LRA's second or third in command -- has moved from DRC back to south Sudan, according to testimonies of former fighters collected by the Washington-based Enough pressure group.

Ongwen's reported move is "worrying", it said, with south Sudan approaching a historic vote due in January on its potential full independence.

"Sudan is preparing for a very important referendum early next year, and the LRA has a proven record of destabilising entire regions with few soldiers," said the Enough report, released on Wednesday.
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Sudan: North guilty of using LRA rebels to destabilize south?
LRA says it wants a ceasefire with Sudan, Uganda and CAR
From Afrik News.com
Friday, 10 September 2010 by Konye Obaji Ori, Patrick K. Johnsson
Northern Sudan has been accused of employing rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to unsettle southern Sudan and the Darfur region ahead of the south’s independence referendum scheduled for January 9, 2011. But an official from the LRA, which has embarked on a mass recruitment, has debunked the claims and suggested that they are rather seeking a peace deal with the region.
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Sudan's Darfur rebels say attacked by Ugandan LRA
From Reuters
Friday, 10 September 2010 at 5:44am GMT
KHARTOUM (Reuters) - A Darfur rebel group said on Thursday it was attacked by Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army guerrillas in Sudan's west.

"A group of LRA attacked our forces in Dafak in South Darfur yesterday," Haydar Galucuma Ateem, vice president of the Darfur rebel Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), told Reuters from Qatar-based peace talks.

South Sudan, which fought decades of civil war against the north, accuses the northern government of arming the LRA to destabilise the semi-autonomous region ahead of a January 9, 2011 referendum which most believe will result in a vote for independence.

Known for their abduction of child soldiers and extreme brutality, the LRA sought refuge in neighbouring south Sudan during the civil war.

Kampala accused Sudan's central government in Khartoum of providing support to the LRA, a charge Khartoum denies.

After a 2005 north-south peace deal, which did not include a separate conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan, LRA rebels went on the run and south Sudan said some had moved towards Darfur to receive support from Khartoum there.

South Sudan's government says it cut off Khartoum's supply lines to the LRA after the 2005 accord so the Ugandan rebels moved north to Khartoum-controlled territory in Darfur to get resupplied.

Ateem said two small reconnaissance groups of about 20 young LRA rebels carrying light arms shot and killed one LJM soldier before retreating into dense forest in remote South Darfur.

"Their language was one of the ways we knew they were LRA," he said, adding the Ugandan guerrillas in the past year had often crossed the remote and porous border between South Darfur and the Central African Republic.

"They probably have a relationship with the government of Sudan," Ateem said. "Many of the young people in the area say they are arming the LRA -- the LRA first entered South Darfur about a year ago."

The International Criminal Court issued its first arrest warrants for LRA commanders, whose tactics include mutilating their victims by cutting off their lips and ears.

Groups of LRA soldiers also frequently attack south Sudanese villages near the border with the lawless Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the United Nations and south Sudan government.
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LRA Denies Attack on Sudan-Based Rebels
Voice of America News (voanews.com) by Peter Clottey
Thursday, 09 September 2010
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Britain arrests top LRA negotiator Willy Oryem alias Achila
From Uganda Watch.blogspot.com
Thursday, 09 September 2010
A top Kampala official said Mr Oryem alias Achila, in detention at Harmmondsworth Removal Centre since his arrest upon landing at Heathrow Airport in England on 28 August 2010, has never been “classified as a terrorist”.
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LRA massacre victims call for help
From The New Vision (www.newvision.co.ug) by Chris Ocowun
Wednesday, 08 September, 2010


Survivors of the 1995 Atyak massacre repairing the monument built for the 250 people who were killed by the LRA

In April 1995, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels led by Vincent Otti attacked Atyak township in the morning and massacred more than 250 civilians, leaving behind about 80 survivors and 100 orphans.

The survivors have appealed to the President to fund the building of a big multipurpose hall and library in Atyak township in memory of the deceased.

They also requested the Government and other development partners to build a bigger monument with a recreation centre across Ayugi River where the bloodbath occurred.

Jacob Nokrac, the chairman of the Atyak Survivors’ Association, on Tuesday observed that the Government helped the injured and bereaved families of the July 11 bomb blasts in Kampala.

“We appeal to the Government to provide us with livestock for income generation and at least sh5m as a revolving fund for the survivors,” he said.

Nokrac also called for grinding mills to process their produce. He said some survivors had bomb fragments in their bodies and needed to be operated upon.

Nokrac disclosed that the survivors had formed a saving and loan association where each member saves between sh1,000-5,000 every week. He said the orphans needed school fees.

Betty Acan, 31, a survivor, said she could not continue with education because her brother who used to pay her school fees was killed in the massacre.

The Atyak sub-county chairman, John Bosco Ocan, called on the Government to take over the running of Lwani Memorial Community Secondary School which was built by the community in memory of those massacred by the rebels.
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Ex LRA commander Thomas Kwoyelo to face trial in Uganda's War Crimes Court
From Uganda Watch.blogspot.com
Sunday, 08 August 2010
The New Vision, Uganda, Monday, 06 September 2010: A former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander, Thomas Kwoyelo, has been charged and committed to the War Crimes Court to face trial. Kwoyelo, 39, appeared before Buganda Road Court Chief Magistrate Vincent Mugabo, who did not allow him to plead to the charges. He becomes the first suspect to be charged with offences relating to war crimes.

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