United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today strongly condemned the “appalling atrocities” reportedly committed by the Ugandan rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and southern Sudan, and demanded that they respect all rules of international humanitarian law.
The UN Mission in the DRC, known by its French acronym MONUC, said an increasingly high number of civilians had been killed by LRA rebels fleeing a joint military operation by the DRC, Uganda and Southern Sudan in the far north-east of the DRC, although it was not possible to give an exact figure due to the remoteness and lack of communications in the region.
But local and humanitarian officials said nearly 200 people had been killed during the Christmas period alone. The rebels, who have been fighting Ugandan forces since the 1980s and have since spilled over into Sudan and DRC, are notorious for human rights abuses including the killing and maiming of civilians, and the abduction and recruitment of children as soldiers and sex slaves.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban called on the Ugandan, DRC and southern Sudanese forces on the ground to coordinate with the humanitarian community and UN missions in the region to ensure the effective delivery of aid to those affected by the LRA attacks.
As it did last week, MONUC stressed that it would do all in its power to ensure the protection of civilians, especially by providing essential support to the Government army. The Mission has already flown in more than 260 Government troop reinforcements and will provide logistical support for them, including food, water, medicines, fuel and medical evacuation.
Mr. Ban’s Deputy Special Representative for the DRC Leila Zerrougui today met with the country’s National Security Council to discuss the Government’s needs. “She informed them of MONUC’s willingness to do everything in its power to support the Government’s efforts to face the situation,” the Mission said in a statement.
MONUC is also supplying logistical support, including trucks, to UN humanitarian agencies and non-governmental organizations to distribute aid to the Haut Uélé region where the LRA carried out simultaneous attacks in several localities, including Faradje, Doruma and Gurba.
A report from humanitarian workers in Dungu indicated that several officials were killed in Faradje, including the chief doctor two priests, a school inspector and a pharmacist, 20 children were abducted, and 120 houses torched. The assailants looted several shops and houses, including a hospital. Faradje’s 30,000 residents were forced to flee, and the majority took refuge in Tadu, 37 kilometres away, and Kpodo, 11kilometres away.
According to the same source, the LRA have occupied seven villages in the surrounding territory of Doruma: Batande, Manzagala, Mabando, Bagbugu, Nakatilikpa, Nagengwa and Natulugbu.