UN envoy fears 'security vacuum' in central Africa
The United Nations said Tuesday it feared a "security vacuum" in central Africa after the withdrawal of Ugandan, South Sudanese and US troops formerly tracking Lord's Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony.
One of Africa's longest-surviving rebel groups, the Lord's Resistance Army has terrorized parts of central Africa for 30 years.
Since being set up by Kony in 1987, it is accused of slaughtering more than 100,000 people and abducting 60,000 children who were forced to become sex slaves and soldiers.
But on April 19, Uganda began withdrawing troops from the eastern Central African Republic (CAR). And 100 special forces soldiers from US Africa Command (AFRICOM) wrapped up their operation, which had cost $600 million to $800 million, the same month.
Kony remains at large.
"The continued threat by the Lord's Resistance Army to regional stability should not be underestimated, in particular as the Ugandan and the South Sudanese forces have now disengaged... along with the United States special forces," said Francois Lounceny Fall, the UN special envoy for Central Africa.
"I am concerned about the impact of this withdrawal as it will create a security vacuum that may be exploited by the LRA and other armed groups operating in the region."
Only small contingents of the Central African Armed Forces and the UN's stabilization force, MINUSCA, remain in eastern Central Africa, but they have limited capacity.
"MINUSCA is not mandated to conduct anti-LRA military operations and the Central African Republic national security forces, which could in the long run fill the gap left by the exit of the Ugandan forces, still require training and structural reforms," the UN envoy added.
The operations to find Kony, however, produced other problems. Ugandan troops were accused of sexually abusing local women and girls, Human Rights Watch reported last month.