Thousands displaced by rebel raids in DRC

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Kinshasa - Almost 3 000 people have been displaced in the Democratic Republic of Congo's north-eastern region amid renewed rebel attacks since the start of the year, the United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday.

“UNHCR is very concerned at the recent displacement of several thousand people as a result of renewed attacks by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Orientale province,” said Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba, UNHCR spokesperson.

Attacks by the LRA resumed this year after a lull in the second half of 2011, with at least 20 reported incidents.

“One person was killed and 17 abducted during these violent incidents. Abducted civilians are often used as porters, while the LRA has forced young women into sexual slavery,” she said.

“Since 2008, the LRA's activity in the province has caused the internal displacement of 320 000 people. During the same period, 30 000 Congolese refugees fled to the Central African Republic and South Sudan.”

Born in 1988 of the frustration of Uganda's marginalised Acholi ethnic group, the LRA led by former altar boy Joseph Kony was a movement drawing on messianic beliefs and a smattering of Christian motifs.

Kony, now wanted by the International Criminal Court, appears to have dropped any national political agenda and in recent years his marauding troops have sown death and destruction in Sudan, the DRC and the Central African Republic. - Sapa-AFP