Obo, Central African Republic – In this remote village near the African pole of inaccessibility – a geographic point marking the continent’s farthest distance from the coastline – the Ugandan People’s Defence Force (UPDF) has been hunting down soldiers attached to the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
Led by Joseph Kony, the LRA became notorious for mutilating people and for abducting thousands of children to be used as soldiers, porters and sex slaves. The International Criminal Court indicted Kony on war crimes and crimes against humanity in 2005, but he remains on the run. Ugandan troops now hunt for the LRA in the Central African Republic, where they fled in 2009.
Four years later, in 2013, a separate rebellion overthrew the Central African Government in the capital Bangui. Since the government’s fall, thousands of people have been killed by sectarian militia fighters. The Ugandan army operates in the country’s sparsely populated, rural and underdeveloped eastern area, where it tries to find LRA units hiding in the dense, impenetrable jungle.
The Ugandan army says that there are about 300 LRA members left, including fighters, abducted woman claimed as “wives”, and their children. Ugandan troops gather intelligence from villagers and pursue the LRA units. Meanwhile, the United Nations says Joseph Kony is hiding hundreds of kilometres away, in a disputed enclave that lies between South Sudan and CAR, but is controlled by Sudan.