UN wants Africa’s Kony hunters fully equipped by year-end


The United Nations wants an African Union force hunting fugitive warlord Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to be fully equipped by December, according to a U.N. strategy due to be presented to the world body’s Security Council.

The AU force, which has U.S. backing, aims to have a full strength of 5,000 troops from South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Uganda, but lacks equipment, training, food and transportation.
“These troops lack almost everything,” AU special envoy on the LRA Francisco Madeira told a news conference at U.N. headquarters in New York on Tuesday, Reuters reports.
“They lack boots, they lack uniforms, they lack food rations and sometimes they lack training. So there is a need for these things to be supplied.”

Abou Moussa, U.N. special envoy and head of the U.N. Regional Office for Central Africa, is slated to brief the 15-member U.N. Security Council on Wednesday on the U.N. regional strategy to address the threat and impact of the LRA.

The strategy, obtained by Reuters, requires U.N. countries and agencies to ensure the AU force is “adequately equipped, including with regard to air capabilities, communications, office and living accommodations, medical support, and fuel and rations, as soon as possible, and no later than December 2012.”

The Security Council is likely to release a statement endorsing the strategy on Wednesday, diplomats say.

Kony, accused of terrorizing northern Uganda for 20 years, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. His LRA is accused of abducting children to use as fighters and sex slaves, and of hacking off living victims’ limbs as a method of intimidation and revenge.

In a report released this month U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said the AU force lacked the necessary resources to “enable troops to mount effective operations against the LRA” and urged U.N. member states to provide what was needed.

The U.N. strategy to be proposed on Wednesday says that “training of military components on respect for human rights and international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians should be a priority.”

AU envoy Madeira said the four African countries had committed enough troops to make up the 5,000-strong force.
“They will be deployed as soon as we have sufficient means to have them remain there. That’s our main problem. We don’t want to put people there to sit idle and stand idle, they might just become bandits if they don’t do anything,” Madeira said.

He said that it was important that the troops hunting Kony had “moral integrity” and that they needed to be trained to be “soldiers at the service of their people, not soldiers at the service of themselves and profiteering from the people.”

LRA violence has subsided since 2005 when the army was ejected from Uganda. Kony is now thought to command only hundreds of followers scattered in jungle hideouts.

The United Nations has said that Kony appears to be increasingly nervous as a result and has been changing his location every few days.
“Is there any other place on Earth where we would have tolerated for a quarter of a century this kind of movement to kidnap, maim, kill, terrorize and target children year in and year out?” Human Rights Watch Deputy Director Jan Egeland, also a former U.N. aid chief, told the news conference in New York.

Kony’s profile rose suddenly following a celebrity-backed campaign against him. A video about Kony posted on YouTube by a California filmmaker has been viewed by tens of millions of people and promoted on Twitter with the hashtag #Kony2012.

In October U.S. President Barack Obama said he was sending 100 military advisers to assist the African Union force.