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UN envoy warns LRA shifting focus to more high-profile targets in Central Africa

The United Nations is concerned about the impact of Uganda’s potential withdrawal from military operations against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the Central African Republic, the Secretary-General’s envoy for the region said today, stressing that a departure of Ugandan troops must be well-coordinated.


“The LRA continues to threaten the security of the population in its operating area and has notably increased its alleged attacks in the Central African Republic (CAR) during the reporting period, reportedly extending into areas that had previously seen little to no LRA movement,” said Abdoulaye Bathily, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Regional Office For Central Africa (UNOCA), in his briefing to the Security Council.

Group elements have also persisted in attacking the civilian population in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), he added.

UNOCA has continued its active engagement to fill coordination gaps on the LRA issue over the past six month, convening the bi-annual meeting of LRA focal points in April and also, together with the AU and other UN partners, organizing a workshop in March to identify more clearly the respective roles and responsibilities of different actors in LRA-affected countries that are assisting LRA members who have defected or escaped from the group, Mr. Bathily said.

Although the successful holding of presidential and legislative elections in CAR has put the country back on the path of sustainable peace, development and longer-term peacebuilding, challenges remain immense, in the context of ongoing, serious protection and humanitarian needs, crushing poverty and urgent requirements in the areas of disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation as well as on security sector reform, he noted.

“Armed groups still control large parts of the country, and the Government is in need of the full political, programmatic and financial support of the international community to ensure the re-establishment of state authority throughout the country,” Mr. Bathily explained.

On Boko Haram insurgents, he said that the collective efforts of the Lake Chad Basin countries have reduced the terrorist group’s capacity to undertake frequent attacks, as the cross-border operations by the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) have captured Boko Haram fighters, freed captives and reclaimed territory from the group.

Boko Haram, however, continues to pose a serious threat to regional stability, he said. While humanitarian assistance has been mobilized for the populations affected by Boko Haram, the number of internally displaced persons and refugees fleeing from Boko Haram violence continues to rise, with limited funding received thus far to address the growing humanitarian needs.

“For these reasons, it is crucial that international partners maintain their support to the region to end the threat posed by the group and stress the need for a holistic regional approach, as emphasized during the Second Regional Security Summit, held in Abuja on 14 May,” he said, urging the global community to support MNJTF through the mobilization of requisite political, logistical and financial support in a flexible manner.

In all of UNOCA’s work, he noted, principal partner remains the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), and during the reporting period, the two institutions have focused on the further strengthening of their relationship.

Jimirasire

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