case http://centreduplateau.qc.ca/wp-content/plugins/mailchimp-for-wp/includes/default-actions.php geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>The defections in the rebel group accused of massive war crimes in Northern Uganda were expected early this week.
“The UN has been effectively informed that some of the LRA fighters have agreed to end fighting. We are impressed by the actions of over 1,200 LRA fighters who have defected,” a United Nations said on Monday.
The international body further noted that they were organizing a mission on the ground in collaboration with the Central African Republic authorities to receive the defectors “between Monday and Tuesday (this week).”
The UN statement further said the mission comprises a brigade from the UN Integrated Bureau for Peace Consolidation in the Central African Republic (BINUCA) led by Senegalese general Babacar Gueye and will therefore head to Nzako locality, where LRA fighters “have started handing over their weapons to the authorities.’
In fact, Uganda Peoples Defence Forces welcomed the move and pledged a safe passage for the rebels.
“We are glad to learn of their decision to surrender in such big numbers, but we also know that this is not the first time, and we only have to hope that they are serious this time round,” explained Chief of Defence Forces, Gen Katumba Wamala on Tuesday.
No defections yet
However, latest reports show that no single LRA rebel has surrendered to authorities in CAR.
According to Invisible Children, an organization that has been tracking LRA activities in the region, “a small group of potential defectors from an unidentified armed force reportedly made contact with Central African officials in Haute-Kotto, CAR, and indicated that they were a part of a larger group located in the same prefecture.”
The organisation’s Public Relations Officer, Michael Mubangizi, told Chimpreports on Friday that the defectors made known their need for supplies and communicated the group’s desire to surrender.
In response, a UN-facilitated delegation was sent to this area earlier this week.
“Preliminary reports from the delegation show no signs of a mass LRA defection. We have not received any verified information about defections over the past 72 hours, and there are questions about whether or not the potential defectors were LRA members or elements of another armed group,” said Mubangizi.
“We have no evidence to support the claims made in various media outlets that 1,000 LRA have surrendered. Best estimates put the total number of LRA combatants in all of central Africa at approximately 250 fighters, in addition to 250 abducted women and children, making a mass defection of this scale highly implausible.”
Mubangizi said Invisible Children has several staff located in CAR looking into these reports further.
“We remain hopeful that the reports of LRA intentions to defect on a large scale hold elements of truth. If a mass defection were to happen, it would be an incredible step forward in dismantling the Lord’s Resistance Army and a huge victory for the families affected by the 27 years of violence,” he added.
“Invisible Children pursues any credible opportunity for peaceful means of stopping LRA atrocities, and we will continue to work with our partners on the ground to do everything possible in central Africa to help facilitate the safe surrender and rehabilitation of as many LRA combatants, women, and children as possible.”