from OMAN MBIKO in Bangui, Central African Republic
BANGUI, (CAJ News) – SOME 34 children are among 222 civilians kidnapped by the Christian extremist group, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), in the Central African Republic (CAR) and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) this year.
Thirty-seven (37) of those children are still missing and presumed in captivity.
An early warning system managed by an international aid organisation, Invisible Children, indicated the abductions had been rife in the eastern CAR and northern DRC.
“Though the LRA no longer makes international headlines, the group’s continued abduction of children proves that it has not simply disappeared,” said Camille Marie-Regnault, Invisible Children’s Regional Protection and Conflict Analysis Coordinator.
Indicted warlord, Joseph Kony, leads the LRA. He is reportedly hiding in South Sudan.
LRA has been active in CAR and DRC for over a decade, abducting more than 7 500 Congolese and Central African civilians since 2008.
Abductions have decreased significantly in recent years as the number of combatants under the command of Kony has dwindled
LRA abducted 69 children in 2018, 12 of whom remain missing.
Children abducted by the LRA are often held in captivity, with some females entering into forced marriages with combatants.
Both boys and girls are forced to do dangerous and difficult manual labour for highly mobile LRA groups, such as portering looted goods, collecting firewood and water as well as setting up camps.
– CAJ News