In 2015, Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) forces were active in the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo), South Sudan, and in Sudanese-controlled areas of South Darfur and the disputed Kafia Kingi enclave. The LRA abducted 612 people in 203 attacks in 2015, a slight reduction compared to 2014, though the number of abductions was higher than in both 2012 and 2013.
Section I of this report looks beyond overall levels of LRA violence, analyzing how LRA attacks and abductions trends have varied within CAR and Congo. Local variations in attack patterns reflect how the LRA’s survival strategies have evolved under the direction of leader Joseph Kony and his depleted fighting force. Though LRA groups still loot food to survive, they have shifted away from killing or injuring people during most attacks. Where possible, they employ less violent survival strategies, such as extorting food and supplies from communities and using illicit ivory and cash to acquire needed supplies. However, a surge in more aggressive attacks in eastern CAR in early 2016 disrupted this trend, once again highlighting the grave threat LRA fighters pose to civilians.
Section II of the report examines the membership of the LRA, including evidence that several commanders are now operating independently of Kony. It also analyzes trends in the number of defections of Ugandan combatants, who form the core of the LRA. Finally, it contrasts the LRA’s continued recruitment of children to become soldiers and camp laborers with the group’s periodic releases of very young children and their mothers.
Section III puts the LRA within the broader national context in the countries in which it operates, examining how the rebel group both creates and feeds off of instability in CAR, Congo, South Sudan, and Sudan. Finally, the report’s Conclusion projects what communities affected by LRA violence may expect to see in 2016.