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UN urges global help to equip force hunting warlord Kony

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 29 Jun 2012 18:46 GMT
Author: Reuters
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    UNITED NATIONS, June 29 (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council called on Friday for global help to equip an African Union force hunting fugitive Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), which lacks basic resources such as boots, food, transport and training.

   The 15-nation Security Council endorsed a U.N. strategy that aims to fully equip by December the AU force, which is due to have a full strength of 5,000 troops from South Sudan, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic (CAR).

   "The LRA remains extremely dangerous and retains the capacity to inflict considerable suffering on the population," said Abou Moussa, head of the U.N. Regional Office for Central Africa, as he briefed the council on the regional strategy.

   The strategy calls for the force to be "adequately equipped, including with regard to air capabilities, communications, office and living accommodations, medical support, and fuel and rations, as soon as possible, and no later than December 2012." 

   Kony, accused of terrorizing northern Uganda for 20 years, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. His LRA is accused of abducting children to use as fighters and sex slaves, and of hacking off living victims' limbs as a method of intimidation and revenge. 

   "The Security Council strongly condemns the continued violations of international humanitarian law and the abuses of human rights by the LRA," it said in a statement. 

   "The Security Council condemns further the recruitment and use of children, killing and maiming, rape, sexual slavery and other sexual violence, and abductions," it said.

   Kony's profile rose suddenly following a celebrity-backed campaign against him. A video about Kony posted on YouTube by a California filmmaker has been viewed by tens of millions of people and promoted on Twitter with the hashtag #Kony2012. 

   In a report released this month, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said the AU force lacked the necessary resources to "enable troops to mount effective operations against the LRA" and urged U.N. member states to provide what was needed. 

   The Security Council said it "recognizes the challenges the governments in the region face and urges the international community, in coordination with the AU and the U.N., to continue to strengthen the operational capabilities of countries participating in the regional taskforce initiative."

   LRA violence has subsided since 2005 when the army was ejected from Uganda. Kony is now thought to command only hundreds of followers scattered in jungle hideouts.    

  The United Nations has said that Kony appears to be increasingly nervous as a result and has been changing his location every few days. 

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Philip Barbara) 

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