Expected Council Action
In December, the Security Council will be briefed by Abdoulaye Bathily, Special Representative and head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), on the Secretary-General’s report on UNOCA and the implementation of the regional strategy to combat the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Either a presidential or a press statement is a possible outcome.
The mandate of UNOCA expires on 31 August 2015.
Key Recent Developments
The Council last discussed UNOCA and the LRA on 12 May, when the previous head of UNOCA, Abou Moussa, briefed on developments and the 6 May UNOCA/LRA report of the Secretary-General.
At the end of the meeting, the Council adopted a presidential statement addressing a host of issues. It expressed its strong support for AU Regional Cooperation Initiative for the Elimination of the LRA (RCI-LRA) and the enhanced operation of the AU-Regional Task Force. The Council expressed its concern about the deterioration of the security situation in parts of Central Africa and in particular the growing regional impact of the conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR). It also expressed its concern about the expansion of activities by the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram into countries in the sub-region, about maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea and about the illegal wildlife trade in the region. As for the LRA, the Council noted that senior LRA leaders are believed to be based in the northeastern part of the CAR and that credible sources suggest that LRA head Joseph Kony and senior LRA commanders have recently sought safe haven in Sudanese-controlled areas of the Kafia Kingi enclave (an area also claimed by South Sudan).The statement asked that the Secretary-General keep it informed through a single report on UNOCA and the LRA by 15 November.
Council members received the latest UNOCA report, covering several situations in the region, on 13 November (S/2014/812).
One issue is the spread of Boko Haram activities into northern Cameroon, where hundreds of Cameroonians have been killed and the number of abductions has increased significantly during the reporting period. Boko Haram activities have also hindered humanitarian assistance in northern Cameroon and have caused thousands to become refugees across the region. The report welcomes the 7 October announcement by Niger, Chad, Nigeria, Benin and Cameroon about the operationalisation of a multinational task force to address the Boko Haram threat. (The task force is to coordinate military contingents from these countries. Nigeria and Cameroon further agreed during a 15 October meeting on cross-border operations by their militaries against Boko Haram.)
On piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, the report notes that 33 incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea were reported since the beginning of the year, making it the African region most severely affected by piracy. The report also notes that poaching remains a serious concern, as does its linkages to the financing of armed groups.
As for the LRA, the report notes that it continues to pose a threat to civilians across the CAR and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Kony continues to command 150 to 200 fighters, and the bulk of LRA operations has moved from the CAR to the DRC, where the group continues to abduct civilians, loot, poach elephants and ambush vehicles. The report also notes cooperation between the LRA and former Séléka members (a predominantly Muslim rebel group alliance which staged a coup in CAR in March 2013 and now de facto controls eastern CAR) for military and finance purposes and further notes a continued LRA presence in Kafia Kingi. Sudan has denied this and has asked the AU to verify the information.
The report notes that there are still gaps in the troop levels assigned to the AU Regional Task Force (AU-RTF). Fewer than half of the soldiers pledged by the affected countries have been deployed. In addition, there is a shortage in programmes to address the needs of returnees. At the same time, military and civilian efforts made under the RCI-LRA have weakened the LRA, including the defection of 81 LRA members since May.
A report released by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on 10 November notes that the LRA continues to be a threat to communities in the CAR and the DRC. Since January, OCHA has tracked a total of 157 LRA attacks, resulting in 22 deaths and 432 abductions. These figures constitute a decrease in attacks and deaths in comparison to 2013 but a rise in the number of abductions.
The primary issue for the Council will be getting an updated analysis regarding implementation of the UN regional anti-LRA strategy, both its military and civilian aspects.
A related issue is how the turmoil in the CAR and in South Sudan is affecting the LRA regional strategy.
Another issue will be ensuring cooperation between MINUSCA and the AU-RTF.
Addressing reports of LRA-Séléka cooperation as well as Boko Haram activities in Cameroon, are newly emerging issues for the Council.
One option for the Council is to issue a presidential or press statement that:
- supports UNOCA and the RCI-LRA while calling on the states in the region to maintain their full commitment to the AU-RTF;
- encourages member states to contribute more resources toward anti-LRA efforts and regional cooperation, especially in light of the turmoil in countries in the region; and
- calls on Sudan to cooperate with any inquiry into allegations that Kony and other LRA leaders are present in Sudanese-controlled Kafia Kingi.
Taking no action at this time is another option.
Council members are largely in agreement on LRA-related issues and strongly support the UN regional anti-LRA strategy. They are optimistic that the decline in LRA activities will continue. While it seems that the RCI-LRA and its military component, the AU-RTF, are less of a focus for Council members due to other regional conflicts, there remains support for the semi-annual consideration of the LRA to maintain prominence and focus to the issue. There is also recognition that other conflicts within the region may undermine the RCI-LRA efforts and divert the attention from the problem. Some Council members feel that a Council outcome should put an emphasis on the dangers of LRA cooperation with other regional actors. At the same time, finding consensus with respect to concerns over a Sudanese safe haven in Kafia Kingi for the LRA may prove difficult. In May, the Council relied heavily on the wording of the Secretary-General’s report to bridge the difference of attitude towards Sudan. Some Council members would also like a statement to include language on the spread of Boko Haram activities in the region and UNOCA’s role in conflict prevention.
|Security Council Presidential Statements|
|12 May 2014 S/PRST/2014/8||This presidential statement condemned the actions of the LRA and requested that the Secretary-General keep the Council informed through a single report on UNOCA and the LRA by 15 November 2014.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|12 May 2014 S/PV.7171||This was a briefing by Special Representative and head of UNOCA, Abou Moussa, on the Secretary-General’s report on UNOCA and the implementation of the regional strategy on the LRA.|
|13 November 2014 S/2014/812||This was on the activities of UNOCA and on areas affected by the LRA.|