DR Congo + 1 more

Weekly Roundup for Oct. 11-17 - Number of children abducted by LRA rebels rises to nearly 160 in one month

The Good: Despite continued LRA violence outside of Uganda, people living inside northern Uganda are taking advantage of the relative security there to leave displacement camps.

The Bad: Many children in northern Uganda are being separated from their parents during the return home, leaving them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

The Ugly: LRA rebels have abducted nearly 160 children in the DR Congo since mid-September.

Peace Process

South Sudan President Salva Kiir has called for a "definitive time frame" for concluding peace talks between LRA rebels and the Ugandan government. The South Sudan government has mediated the peace process, which has stagnated since April when LRA chief Joseph Kony refused to sign the agreement. The latest rebel attacks in the DR Congo and a recent breakdown in communications with Kony have cast further doubt on prospects for a successful conclusion to the process.

Regional Security

The latest UN reports reveal that LRA rebels have abducted 159 children and killed at least 52 civilians during attacks in northeastern DR Congo dating to mid-September. At least 50,000 people have been displaced by the attacks, including thousands who have fled to neighboring South Sudan.

Unconfirmed reports have implicated LRA rebels with providing arms to other militia groups in eastern DR Congo, which has witnessed a sharp increase in violence in recent weeks.

Situation on the Ground

The latest UN humanitarian report reveals that over two-thirds of displaced persons in northern Uganda have left crowded camps for their homes or transit sites near their homes. Over 145,000 have left the camps since May 2008 alone.

However, lack of basic services such as schools and healthcare in areas of return have forced many families to maintain a part-time presence in the camps. Children are often left behind in the camps or travel to town centers, where they are vulnerable to sexual exploitation and abuse.

International Response

The UN's top humanitarian official condemned recent LRA attacks in northeastern DR Congo, saying, "Countries in the region and beyond must work together to improve the protection of civilians under threat."

Uganda was elected today for a two-year term on the UN Security Council. Ugandan officials have indicated they will use their position on the Council to push for a more robust international response to LRA rebels and other security threats in the Great Lakes region of Africa.