Ugandan rebel attacks causing food problems in Central African Republic
Attacks by Ugandan rebels in the Central African Republic are leading to food shortages as local farmers are driven off their lands.
After driving them out of Uganda and chasing them across the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ugandan government troops are now fighting the rebel Lord's Resistance Army in the Central African Republic.
Those rebels occasionally ambush vehicles on the road along the southern border with Congo. But they spend most of their time raiding villages for supplies and food. And that is displacing the local population.
"People are no longer able to farm. They are in the bush running away from this LRA, Lord's Resistance Army. They do not know next when they will be able to go back to their farms," said Sitta Kai-Kai who directs U.N. World Food Program operations in the Central African Republic.
She says the country's southeastern provinces are traditionally among the most food secure. But with the rebel incursion, WFP is now feeding more than two-thousand displaced civilians in the village of Zemio, 1,000 kilometers from the capital Bangui.
"It has complicated the situation not only for the local population, but also for the government and for all of us. Until this year, we did not think that we would be feeding those people with food aid," she said.
Because government troops are fighting a rebellion along the northern border with Chad, Kai-Kai says humanitarian convoys in the southeast are limited by the number of soldiers available to protect them.
While Ugandan troops are active in responding to rebel ambushes, there are too few to prevent local villages from being raided by hungry rebels.
"They are hungry. They come and loot, and then go back to the bush. And the local population, not knowing where they are, they are living in constant fear," said Sitta Kai-Kai.
The Lord's Resistance Army began in 1987 in northern Uganda and southern Sudan. It is accused of widespread human-rights violations; including murder, mutilation, abduction, sexual enslavement and the conscription of child soldiers.
Its leader, Joseph Kony, is wanted by the International Criminal Court. Ugandan military officials believe Kony is currently hiding out in the Central African Republic.