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Many problems in combating Kony and the LRA

2012-04-25

A film about the warlord Joseph Kony, leader of the rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army, has been circulating in several Internet forums. FOI has a new report on the subject.

Gabriella Ingerstad, who is working at FOI on a placement from Uppsala University, has written the report on the so-called Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Central Africa.

- The LRA represents one of the many threats to the safety of civilians in the region. The positive aspect of the film which is now being circulated about the LRA is that problems in Central Africa are moving up the agenda, says Gabriella Ingerstad.

She thinks that the whole debate about the film and the organisation behind it is now becoming polarised. It is an American lobbying organisation that has made the film which does not really take a balanced, nuanced view. But the organisation has a serious agenda, she says.

- Unfortunately the film does not make clear that problems in northern Uganda today are largely the responsibility of the government and not the LRA. The LRA has not been active in Uganda since 2006 and today is primarily a threat to the local inhabitants in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

In the report entitled Lord’s Resistance Army in Central Africa; Cross-border solutions to a regional problem, Gabriella Ingerstad identifies a number of problems in combating the LRA by military means.

- It is not the first time that military action has been taken against the LRA. The last occasion was in 2008 when it was not particularly successful. The rebels spread out and retaliated by attacking the civil population.

- Another problem is that the security forces in the region, the forces supposed to implement the military intervention, have a questionable background as far as the protection of civilians and respect for human rights are concerned.

- A third problem concerns military strategy since the practical possibility of getting to grips with the LRA in such a large and impenetrable area is remote.

Gabriella Ingerstad is reading for a two-year Masters course in Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University. She is carrying out her research at FOI and was in the field in the Central African Republic as recently as last autumn.