A United States law that was passed in May and which demands the Washington administration to develop a strategy to ensure civilians are protected from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA); to end the rebels campaign of butchery; and the recruiting of more members including child soldiers, has yet to take effect as south Sudan suffers renewed guerilla attacks from the LRA.
“The attacks this year by the LRA seem to be on the increase. Not a week goes by without us receiving a message they have attacked a village,” Sapana Abuyi, deputy governor of Western Equatoria, the state in south Sudan hardest hit by the rebels told reporters.
According to eyewitness accounts documented by AFP on May 16, 2010, the LRA militiamen attacked and torched the village of Basukangbi in southern Sudan. The village defense force known as the Arrow Boys, tried to defend the village with their bows and arrows, but were shot at, after which the young men were dragged off into the forest to join the LRA.
The U.S. bill allocates funding towards humanitarian aid and post-conflict justice and reconciliation processes, but the primary focus in the U.S Congress is on a military strategy to apprehend or otherwise remove LRA leaders. A strategy that has however not been developed.
And prolonged attacks by the LRA have weakened the south Sudan population and the United Nations and aid agencies worry there is little sign of finding a solution or ending the attacks.
“All along the border they have killed and abducted children for their evil army. The peace that was ongoing has ended, and no one is talking about it,” Lexson Wari Amozai, the head of the south Sudan government’s humanitarian agency for Western Equatoria was quoted as saying.
The U.S. bill calls for an assessment of options through which the United States, working with regional governments, could help develop and support multilateral efforts to eliminate the threat posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army.
Apart from issues of internal ethnic conflicts and tensions with northern Sudan, south Sudan has seen more than 25,000 of its people flee their homes since January, for fear of the brutality of the LRA, United Nations authorities have revealed.
Nonetheless, some locals believe an increase in the LRA attacks is linked to the ripe harvests currently in the fields. They believe the rebel group stay away while they cultivate, but return when the crops are good, forcing them away so they [the rebels] can take their food.
With reports of U.S. military drones flying over Mogadishu to help the transitional government in Somalia to track the al-Shabab extremists, analysts, observers and locals expect a similar multilateral approach to eliminating the LRA.
The LRA led by Joseph Kony, a man wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people in two decades of fighting. The rebellion which first began against the government of Uganda later spread to south Sudan, DR Congo and the Central African Republic.
The soldiers of both southern Sudanese and Ugandan patrol the forest areas in the region, but the LRA guerrillas have become experts in hit-and-run raids.
The U.S. bill emerged in response to aggressive calls from a handful of US-based organizations such as the Enough Project, and Invisible Children.