The cult underground “Lord’s Resistance Army” led by Joseph Kony in northern Uganda is still kidnapping civilians, say leaders of local charities working in the region.
A spokesman for the nonprofit “Invisible Children” warns that the group remains a threat.
Last year, Washington closed down its seven-year effort to track down Kony, ending an initiative that included encouraging LRA members through leaflets, loudspeakers and local radio broadcasts to defect.
According to Invisible Children’s LRA Crisis Tracker, several hundred LRA fighters are scattered throughout Congo and the Central African Republic, and more than 160 civilians have been kidnapped this year.
Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes, is now believed to have settled in Sudan.
With the U.S. and Ugandan militaries pulling out of the fight, encouraging defections is seen as the best way to whittle down its remaining forces.
There have been 343 defections in the past four years. Defections and reunions are generally celebrated by northern Ugandans, who see them as a necessary step toward peace-building. In three recent cases, escapees from the LRA have been granted amnesty by the Ugandan government and will not be prosecuted for anything they did in the bush.
Meanwhile, Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes, is now believed to have settled in Sudan.
In a related development, the U.N. Security Council strongly condemned “the rise of incitement to ethnic and religious hatred and violence” in the Central African Republic (CAR) and attacks by Boko Haram and the Islamic State extremist groups in the broader region.
The Council expressed concern that the Lord’s Resistance Army continues to pose “a security risk to civilians,” particularly in CAR and Congo.
It also expressed concern “at the link between illicit trafficking in wildlife and natural resources and financing of armed groups,” including the LRA and Boko Haram.
The council urged countries being attacked to fight all forms of terrorism including the conditions that cause its spread. w/pix of former LRA fighter and mother separated since his kidnapping at age 9.