Uganda: March 30, 2002


The Ugandan Army continued operations in south Sudan. The Ugandan defense ministry reported that large quantities of weapons and ammo had been found at the LRA base camps overrun in the current offensive. A western wire service reported the weapons haul included 120 machine guns. Numerous vehicles (including motorcycles) were also found in the camps which indicates the LRA still has (had?) some significant funding and support inside Sudan. A subsequent report indicated that the Ugandan operation not only intends to destroy LRA combat capabilities, but hopes to find or account for the numerous Ugandan children abducted by the LRA. The UN and NGOs put the total figure of abducted Ugandan children (ie, abducted by the LRA since 1988) at 10,000. About half of them have been accounted for (either returned to Uganda or reported dead). Do the sad math. That leaves at least 5000 still missing. Various NGOs (including Catholic and Anglican Church sources) have reported that the children are sold as slaves elsewhere in Sudan or are used as workers (porters, servants, etc.) by the LRA. What are the chances of finding these abducted children? Theres no real way to know. Ugandan intelligence officers will question captured LRA rebels about the missing, and that will produce leads. After that, its police work, which will require the help of Sudanese government authorities (and Khartoum is very nervous about any investigations of slaving inside Sudan). The fact that abducted Ugandan children are still held by the LRA has to shape Ugandan Army tactics when attacking LRA base camps. Frankly, the abductees serve as human shields for the LRA, and as hostages. (Austin Bay)


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