UN says brutal LRA attacks increasing in south Sudan

Source: Reuters

YAMBIO, Sudan, Sept 11 (Reuters) – UN officials on Friday accused the Ugandan rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) of mounting a growing number of “brutal” attacks in south Sudan, burning villages, killing civilians and abducting children. “(These) have been increasing rapidly in the last few months. Over the last six weeks there were 11 such attacks,” Ameerah Haq, the Resident Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, told journalists in the southern town of Yambio. “In September alone there were seven attacks that displaced people.” UN officials said at least 200 people had been killed in such attacks since late 2008. Other aid groups said in a report 137 people had been abducted in Western Equatoria region since January. Haq said the attacks had frightened tens of thousands into fleeing their homes in Western Equatoria. The lush jungle area, bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has suffered killings, looting and child abductions by the LRA for several years but these have worsened since a peace process broke down last year. South Sudanese-mediated talks between the representatives of the rebel group and the Ugandan government managed to produce a peace deal on paper but LRA leader Joseph Kony failed to emerge from his forest hideout to sign the document. South Sudan, semi-autonomous from the north under Sudan’s 2005 peace accord, then tried to stop the LRA from entering south Sudan from DRC bases and from moving around the region but its army has been unable to stamp out the rebels. Uganda’s two-decade war uprooted 2 million people there but also destabilized the wider region including oil-rich south Sudan and mineral-rich eastern DRC. Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. Haq said many families had lost children in recent LRA abductions and that villages had been burned. The LRA is notorious for abducting children and forcing them to become porters or soldiers. The LRA have also been active in the DRC in recent months and over 18,000 of the UN-estimated 86,000 displaced people in Western Equatoria currently are refugees from there. Haq said the southern Sudan government was struggling to provide security in the large and sparsely populated are of dense forest that is one of Africa’s most remote corners, a task made harder because the LRA had splintered into many different small groups. (Reporting by Skye Wheeler; editing by Andrew Roche)
spotted by RS

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