Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

HRW: Uganda rebels continue to recruit child soldiers

A notorious Ugandan rebel group has abducted hundreds of villagers in the Central African Republic (CAR) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and forced them to fight, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said.

According to HRW research released on Thursday, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has seized more than 697 adults and children over the last 18 months in CAR and the Bas Uele district of northern DRC.

About one-third of those abducted were children, who are being forced to serve as soldiers or sex slaves, HRW said.

“The LRA continues its horrific campaign to replenish its ranks by brutally tearing children from their villages and forcing them to fight,” said Anneke van Woudenberg, senior Africa researcher at HRW. “The evidence points to Joseph Kony, the LRA leader, as the author of this atrocious campaign.

About 250 people have been killed by the group — often by the child soldiers — and as many as 74 000 have fled their homes in the same period, according to HRW.

The rebel group, which fled to the jungles of DRC in 2005 after its rebellion in northern Uganda was crushed, is well-known for its tactics of forced recruitment.

Kony and other LRA leaders are subject to International Criminal Court arrest warrants for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Ugandan and Congolese forces failed to eradicate the guerrillas during a military operation that began in December 2008. The group now flits between CAR, DRC and Southern Sudan.

HRW called on Uganda, national governments and the United Nations — which has a large peacekeeping presence in the sprawling DRC — to do more to protect civilians.

The research was carried out over a month, during which time HRW employees interviewed hundreds of civilians, including 90 people who escaped the LRA’s clutches. — Sapa-dpa

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

Zondo commission: 10 unanswered questions

Zuma went to jail rather than testify. Some who did told blatant lies. Who decided Cabinet appointments and how much money was carried out of Saxonwold?

Local elections: Water tops the agenda in Limpopo’s dry villages

People in the Fetakgomo Tubatse local municipality, who have to collect water from Motse River, are backing independent candidates because they’re tired of parties’ election promises

More top stories

Conservation boosts cattle farmers

By adopting sound grazing practices livestock owners get access to markets in a foot-and-mouth disease red zone near the Kruger National Park

COP26 touted to resolve long standing issues on climate debt

Only 16% of losses in South Africa from weather-related disasters in the past four decades were covered by insurers, leaving governments and communities unable to build back

Most climate science is written by white men

In deciding how the world responds to the climate crisis, policymakers rely on research that tends to be written predominantly by men in the Global North

Zondo commission: 10 unanswered questions

Zuma went to jail rather than testify. Some who did told blatant lies. Who decided Cabinet appointments and how much money was carried out of Saxonwold?

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…