African Insights –Blog- and Newsletter
Uganda 2009 - Joseph Kony - The Lord's Resistance Army
Where is Joseph Kony? The present situation regarding the war with the LRA in northern Uganda
Uganda – The Pearl of Africa often gets a bad wrap on blogs, reports in the news and the like. Just the other day I read that Uganda was one of the most dangerous places in the world to visit on a blog for today, but in reality that quote is taken from a UN report a few years old. Today there was another one who said child soldiers active in Northern Uganda, that night commuter children were still hiding at night from the LRA in Gulu and the author was presently in Uganda, at his disposal was and is the local media reporting where Joseph Kony presently is and the current situation regarding the Lord's Resistance Army. (writer of that blog was not in the north of Uganda but in Jinja which is in Eastern Uganda)
Many visitors come each day to my website using search engines and with search words such as “child soldiers, Joseph Kony, pictures of child soldiers, Lord’s Resistance Army, LRA”. I also receive many emails asking me about child soldiers in Uganda, about the state of war in Uganda, about abductions of children inside of Uganda presently.
There is this perception in the West that Uganda is aflame with war, embroiled in conflict, that it is a warzone…which is not the reality at all…and far from the truth. Joseph Kony under the indictment from International Criminal Court is not to be found in Uganda.
Joseph Kony, the former altar boy gone mad has not been active inside of Uganda for over two years. Before that Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army terrorized the north of Uganda, especially his own people, the Acholi Tribe for over twenty years. Abducting children from places such as Secondary Boarding Schools, villages and homes. Over thirty thousand children were abducted in those years, a time largely ignored by the Western world, until three young men wound up in the North of Uganda and put together a video called “Invisible Children,” regarding the plight of thousands of children who lived in the fear of abduction by the LRA and went into towns such as Gulu and slept under porches of shops, inside of schools, hospitals and other places, wanting a safe place to sleep.
Over two million people from Northern Uganda wound up leaving their homes and villages for Internally Displaced Persons camps where they lived in squalor for many years. Businesses closed down, schools and churches closed, clinics closed, life stopped in large sections of the north.
Thousands were killed in raids by the LRA, children were brainwashed much as you saw in the movie “Blood Diamond” and were made to kill and maim their own families, their own friends, their own villages. Lips, ears, noses and other body parts were cut off in order to instill fear and silence in the people of the North of Uganda.
It was a sorrowful time for Uganda and it lasted for 22 years. One can only be glad that for the last two years there has been a kind of peace in the North of Uganda thanks to a cessation of fire agreement between the Government of Uganda and Joseph Kony. During the last year, Joseph Kony has been promising to sign a peace treaty with the government of Uganda, but he and some of his top deputies fear being handed over to International Criminal Court for trial because of their hideous deeds and of now, no peace deal had been signed.
Joseph Kony and his LRA simply moved their operation of terror into other nearby countries such as South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, abducting children, enslaving people, continuing the creation of child soldiers, turning the girls and women into concubines, making them tend the fields that provided food for the LRA. The size of his group with non-combatants on December 14, 2008 around 1000 to 1200 in total and Combatants at around 600 including some women. (according to the Ugandan Army as reported in local Ugandan media)
December 14th of 2008 the UPDF which is the Ugandan Army along with elements of the Democratic Republic of Congo Army and the South Sudanese Army began operation Lightning Thunder. The beginning of it was a bit iffy since they attacks on the LRA was somewhat flawed even though aided and supported in part by the US military.
The downside of that attack is that Joseph Kony and the LRA disbursed before soldiers actually arrived at the camp in Garamba National Park in the DRC, leaving a trail of tears within the DRC and upward to a thousand dead left in his trail of terror including the burning of a church and murdering the people within.
Today, Joseph Kony and the LRA are being pursued inside of the Democratic Republic of Congo by the UDPF which is the Ugandan Army, the army of Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudanese Army and some gains can be reported with captives being set free, with a major leader of the LRA being captured and some of the child soldiers being found and freed.
The terrain where Kony has been hiding in Garamba National Park in the DRC is literally jungle, hills, rainforest, swamps, rivers, not many people, though since December 14th his group is to have killed around a 1000 people depending on different news reports. Since the beginning of operation Lightning Thunder the size of the group has been greatly reduced, some have deserted, others are in negotiations of turning themselves over to the Ugandan Army, others have been killed, the supplies Kony and the LRA had have been reduced, all making the LRA less of a fighting force, nevertheless still potent and deadly, causing thousands to flee their homes inside of the Congo.
Joseph Kony’s support has come in the past from the Khartoum government in Sudan since they used him as a proxy to disturb the SPLA in the South and also to frustrate the government of Uganda. He is also purported to have received assistance from the Acholi community that live abroad and would like to see a change in government in Kampala.
Presently the Ugandan press is reporting that Kony is in Garamba Park in the DRC, one can only hope that the operation to hunt him down is successful and Northern Uganda, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic will be free of the LRA and its demonically guided Leader, Joseph Kony. (The problem is that the very children one wants to rescue often get killed. The operation is over and Kony is back to his old ways)
The North of Uganda is slowly coming to life again, people are rebuilding, millions of dollars are needed to repair destroyed and or neglected infrastructure such as schools and hospitals. The people of Uganda want the peace of the last two years to continue so that they can live their lives without fear and life can return to normality.
Though there may not be any war in Northern Uganda, the wounds of war will take a long time to heal. The hearts and minds of the formerly abducted are scarred by abuse; the physical damages such as the cut off noses, lips, ears, hands can never be repaired. Kony’s has left a long legacy of tears and sadness affecting many.
The good news is that there is presently peace in Uganda, that no children are being recruited or abducted as child soldiers or concubines into the LRA. That Uganda is slowly regaining its luster as the pearl of Africa. That people are traveling freely into the north and around the north of Uganda without the fear of being ambushed by Kony’s abducted child soldiers turned into killers.
The towns of Lira, Gulu, Arua are coming to life again, the villages around them are once again being inhabited by its people, gardens are once again being tended, shops have opened, schools are open again that had been closed, clinics are functioning…it is the beginning of a slow walk back to sanity.
What saddens one is that voices from far away make it look like Uganda is still aflame portraying Uganda as a dangerous place, instead of the reality that Uganda is beginning to repair the damages of two decades of war and insanity. The sad reality is that such misconceptions about Uganda actually hurt the very people of the North by keeping tourists away from Uganda and potential income. Income that could benefit the very people that were hurt by Kony and his LRA, since some areas in the north are being reopened for tourists.
Uganda is one of the most beautiful places in the world, its bio-diversity, its wildlife, its scenery are simply awesome, but the most beautiful thing about Uganda is its people, including the people of the North of Uganda who are learning to slowly smile again…jon Joseph Kony's Mother's dying Wish.
For more information regarding security and safety while traveling in Uganda see the Staying safe in Uganda Page.
Gulu: From war zone to a city of hope
With enlightened leadership, the municipality has built
on this and recently moved to do something unusual – demolished illegal
structures that had been erected on road reserves.
Yes, it might have one or two problems but the district
marking its centenary in 2010 gives a sense of hope to the first time
visitor. The carving of Amuru District out of Gulu will probably
have helped as it essentially meant the leadership would now be freed
from the burden of providing much-needed social services to far-flung
parts on a tight budget.
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African Insights Blog - Joseph Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army
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