UNHCR seeing new displacement caused by Lord's Resistance Army

Briefing Notes, 15 October 2010

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 15 October 2010, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR is very concerned at new displacement arising out of continuing attacks by the Lord's Resistance Army, whose latest ambush on Sunday in the northern Central African Republic town of Birao, is reported to have resulted in abductions of young girls, looting, and shops being set afire.

The LRA's campaign of terror against civilians has intensified since September with attacks in Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, and southern Sudan. Northeast DRC has seen at least six attacks and three ambushes in the last few weeks, all in Haut Uele district. In a single village, Nambiongo, 21 people were killed and 2,500 displaced, while fear created by these attacks prompted 2000 people to flee Dungu, the district headquarters.

In southern Sudan, the LRA also attacked the villages of Ribodo and Nahua in Western Equatoria state on 4 September, killing eight people and displacing 2,600.

So far this year, the Ugandan rebel group has carried out more than 240 deadly attacks. At least 344 people have been killed. In most cases these attacks are on vulnerable, isolated communities, with indiscriminate killings, abductions, rape, mutilation, looting and destruction of property. Insecurity and poor infrastructure hinder assessment of needs and delivery of aid to affected communities, many of whose members are traumatized and too scared to return to their farms to cultivate their land. This means they will continue to depend on outside help for the foreseeable future.

Since December 2008, the LRA has murdered 2,000 people, abducted more than 2,600 and displaced over 400,000. An estimated 268,000 remain displaced in Orientale province in northeastern DRC, over 120,000 in Western Equatoria in southern Sudan and 30,000 in the southeast of the Central African Republic. There are also more than 24,000 civilians who were forced into exile.

UNHCR supports the displaced and with emergency shelter, healthcare and psycho social counselling. We also provide them and their host communities with water and sanitation facilities.