Official Statement on Garamba Attack by LRA

The partnership that manages Garamba National Park which consists of the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) and the African Parks Network, has issued a press release about the attack on the Park headquarters by Lords Resistance Army of the Ugandan rebel, Joseph Kony on which Paula reported in her post earlier today. Garamba park rangers were poised to start blogging at WildlifeDirect presently, but before that, we at Baraza would like to help them convey this urgent message.

GarambaRangers-Nagero
Rangers at Nagero Station that was attacked (Photo (c) African Parks Network)

Press release
6 January 2009

On 2 January 2009, the headquarters of Garamba National Park, located in Nagero, Democratic Republic of Congo, have been attacked by the Ugandan rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Despite strong resistance by the park rangers together with elements from the Congolese Armed Forces, numerous casualties and material damages have been incurred. A first report mentions 8 people killed, including two park rangers and two wives of wardens, and 13 injured, most of them by bullets. An unconfirmed number of rebels have also been killed or wounded.

Several essential buildings of the headquarters have also been destroyed, along with many items of transport and communications equipment, and stocks of fuel and food rations.

“The headquarters in Nagero are in a state of havoc” mentions the Chief Warden Bernard Iyomi who directed the resistance during the attack and who narrowly escaped death. “The heroic behaviour of our rangers and wardens has prevented an ever heavier death toll”.

It will take several days before these first figures are confirmed, once the management team has completed the final assessment.

Military and humanitarian assistance is being rapidly deployed in order to secure the area and to help the populations displaced by the attack.

“We strongly condemn this attack launched by the LRA, and request the military authorities of the region and the international community to continue their involvement in solving this problem caused by the rebel group for so many years” says Mr Cosma Wilungula, the head of the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN).

“Our immediate concern is for the safety and wellbeing of our people, particularly those that are injured. Thereafter we will immediately begin rebuilding the administrative base and staff morale, both of which are essential for the continued management of this important park” adds Mr Peter Fearnhead, the Executive Director of African Parks.


Background information

Garamba National Park (NP) is located in the north-east of the Democratic Republic of Congo along the border with Sudan. The park was established in 1938 by a Belgian royal decree as one of the first national parks in Africa, and has been associated with the elephant domestication centre created in the 1920s in Gangala-na-Bodio. The park has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.

Garamba NP is surrounded by three game hunting reserves – Azande to the west, Gangala na Bodio to the south and Mondo Missa to the east. The total area of the Garamba complex is 12427 km², including 4900 km² for the park itself.

The Garamba complex still harbours populations of elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, hippos and numerous other species of ungulates. The presence of the Northern white rhinoceros still needs to be confirmed.

The ICCN (Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature) is the governmental authority in charge of the management and conservation of protected areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The ICCN controls a network that accounts for about 10% of the total land area of the country, including 7 national parks (among them 5 World Heritage sites) and numerous reserves.

African Parks Network is a private foundation based in Johannesburg (South Africa) and specialised in the management of protected areas. African Parks is currently active in 5 national parks and reserves across Africa. African Parks has officially assumed the management mandate for Garamba National Park on 12 November 2005, in partnership with ICCN.

Besides African Parks, Garamba National Park currently receives financial assistance from the European Union, the Spanish, Italian and Belgian governments, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Technical or scientific support is also provided by UNESCO, IUCN (World Conservation Union), United Nations for the Environment Programme and Fauna & Flora International.

Contacts :

For ICCN (Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature) :
Pasteur Cosma Wilungula, Administrateur Délégué Général
pdg.iccn@yahoo.fr
+243 998 97 6686

For African Parks Network
Dr. José Kalpers, Country coordinator for DRC
jkalpers@gmail.com
+254 737 576232
+32 495 141348

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5 Comments

  1. Dr. Abe
    Posted January 6, 2009 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Dear Paula and all at WildlifeDirect.org. The LRA has been in Garamba for many years BUT no such atrocities were reported. Why now? Read the article below from http://www.radiokatwe.com and make your own conclusions etc.

    Matsanga: “UPDF’s 105th battalion massacred in Congo at Christmas”
    Last updated : 30 Dec 2008, Kampala

    The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) purported representative has said that soldiers of the Uganda army’s 105th battalion carried out the massacre of Congolese civilians on Christmas Day.

    LRA spokesman David Matsanga told the Associated Press in a phone interview from Nairobi the UPDF’s 105th Battalion carried out the gruesome killings. “They were airlifted to Congo to kill civilians and then say we are responsible,” he charged. “They want to justify their stay in DRC (Congo) and loot minerals from there like they did before”.

    On December 14, the UPDF launched an attack on suspected LRA bases at Garamba National Park but did not manage to locate or kill the LRA leader, Joseph Kony.

    More than 35 civilians were brutally killed with pangas and clubs and over 120 houses were set on fire at Faradje trading centre, about 400km north of Bunia, in Haut Uele District in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    Many others who had taken refuge in a Catholic Church were also massacred by the attackers.

    The UN is saying it is LRA which killed about 189 civilians but they have yet to say how they identified LRA as the killers. Like most international organizations, the UN sometimes adopts the official line of the government they operate under.

    David Matsanga pointed out that the LRA could not have carried out the massacre because it did not have a single fighter in the area in question.

    It must be noted that Kony has in the past not been on good terms with his supposed representative Mr Matsanga, and at one time disowned him. In a statement we carried two days ago, Kony spoke of his negotiating team being infiltrated. This brings some doubt on the reliability of Mr Matsanga’s assertions about where and when the LRA are at any one time.

    There is no doubt that Kony has unleashed his thugs to murder, maim and terrorise civilians in northern Uganda, and should by all means be brought to account. One can line up whole villages as witnesses to his brutality.

    But what has given us cause to carefully examine reports of attacks is that in the recent past, we have come to discover that units of the UPDF posing as LRA played a large part in these attrocities. It has become fool hardy to accept at face value, reports of an attack as being perpetrated by Kony.

    The timing of these latest reports come at a time when Kony is said to be fleeing, with the armies of three nations in hot pursuit. LRA has just managed to survive a UPDF attack and they even shot down at least one UPDF aircraft. As a military strategy, it appears quite foolish if LRA would risk antagonizing the civilian population in Congo when some of these civilians might have even tipped off the LRA that they had seen UPDF troops in the area.

    If anything, Kony needs as many civilian supporters as possible because if he treats them well, they are the ones who will in future tip him off about any reconnaissance missions by UPDF.

    When you have managed to disorganize the enemy, is that the time to massacre civilians or to celebrate with them and try to convince them to support your cause? If the LRA managed to evade UPDF, it is reasonable to suppose that he had some civilian support, however little. So who is more likely to be angry with the civilians in Congo, LRA which outfoxed the UPDF or UPDF which was humiliated in public?

    Radio Katwe over the past two years has published details of massacres carried out in Uganda allegedly by the LRA, but which have eventually been proved the deeds of the UPDF.

    Earlier this year, Lt. Godfrey Masaba of the UPDF escaped from a safe house and gave the Independent magazine edited by journalist Andrew Mwenda tape recordings with detailed evidence of how the NRA/UPDF has all along been massacring civilians in Acholi so that they could be blamed on the LRA.

    Uganda’s Military Intelligence raided the Independent’s offices in Kamwokya in Kampala to try and arrest Masaba and get hold of the damaging tapes, but they failed.

    A Canadian journalist working as an intern at the Independent was tipped off before the CMI raided the Independent and she boarded a plane and fled the country. She had been busy transcribing Masaba’s tapes for a special report by the Independent.

    We also heard reports this year that the LRA had massacred civilians in southern Sudan. But after some investigations, the Southern Sudan Military Intelligence said that actually the killings had been carried out by a unit of the UPDF dressed in another uniform. See Sudan Tribune article LRA not responsible for Sudan’s Equatoria attacks – report That was when the Southern Sudan government ordered the UPDF to leave its territory.

    GOSS Vice President Riek Machar who is also a chief mediator in the Kony talks has been quoted making contradictory statements, at one time saying the SPLA is not involved in the Congo war. You can read the full story at Sudan Tribune website

    Ugandans have now come to know the story of what happened in Luwero Triangle between 1981 and 1985 when Museveni’s NRA would massacre civilians in order to blame it on the UNLA government army and make the army lose support. (this fact not to be taken as exonerating the UNLA, for indeed there were many killers there too).

    Having failed to locate and destroy Kony, it is probable that Museveni in his humiliation has started massacring civilians so that the world could once again feel horror at the LRA.

    After the debacle of the 1972 attack on Mbarara from Tanzania by Obote and Museveni guerrillas, Museveni did the same thing as is happening in Congo to civilians, Radio Katwe will one day explain this story.

    God forbid but do not be surprised if in the next few weeks massacres by UPDF of Acholi civilians resume and the LRA is blamed by the Museveni government.

    We have seen no proof yet that Museveni has unleashed his terror machine in Congo and South Sudan, neither is there convicing evidence that his friend Kony is the culprit, but the painful fact is someone is massacring civilians. Both Kony and Museveni have a record of committing atrocities, so which one of them is doing it?

    We continue to urge everyone to keep a close eye on developments, lets work to end the days of spilling innocent blood with impunity.

    THE TRUTH WILL COME OUT

  2. Posted January 6, 2009 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Y’know what? Here’s my conclusion: Some jackasses with lethal weapons walked into a PARK RANGER STATION and killed rangers and their families – rangers who are there to help conserve wildlife and the ecosystems by arresting poachers and preventing the charcoal burners from ruining forests, etc.

    I support the ICCN rangers – against ALL others who would do them and their families harm and who would destroy Congo’s natural resources for gain so they can continue to wage their ignorant wars. I don’t care which group perpetrated this heinous crime, but they should be hunted down and brought to justice.

    s.

  3. Posted January 6, 2009 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Check out my book on the LRA, First Kill Your Family: Child Soldiers of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army, on Amazon.com or at http://www.firstkillyourfamily.com Also my blog on the LRA at http://www.petereichstaedt.blogspot.com

  4. Dr Abe
    Posted January 6, 2009 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Dear Sheryl and all,

    Thanks for the replies. Help us to take the jackasses to court.

    My birthplace has been labelled as the worst place on earth to be a child today, but it was not always so. My childhood memories are happy ones until my family fled in 1986. For more read the book Child soldiers by China Keitetsi and An Eyewitness Report from the Frontlines of Humanity By Jan Egeland.

    In 1998, in chairing the task force of the Acholi religious leaders’ peace initiative, I witnessed first hand an entire society systematically destroyed – physically, emotionally, culturally, socially and economically – in full view of the international community. This human rights’ catastrophe has been sustained for more twenty years. In that time more than half a million people – most of them children and women – have been placed into internment camps – – euphemistically called ‘protected villages’ – – under inhuman and abominable conditions, where despair and disease, over-crowding, infant mortality, hunger and malnutrition, and sexual abuse, cultural and personal humiliation and suicide are rampant; where the lack of sanitary facilities, clean water or clothing are ‘normal conditions’ of life.

    A United Nation mission visited the Internally Displaced People (IDP) in Kitgum on 10 November 2003 to investigate the state of the refugee camps. The tragedy of Northern Uganda shocked Jan Egeland the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs to the degree that he was prompted to assert ‘Northern Uganda must be one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.’

    “When the Holocaust exterminated the Jews in Europe the world said ‘never again.’ When genocide was perpetrated in Rwanda the world said ‘never again.’ The genocide in northern Uganda is happening as the world watches and with full knowledge. Why is there no action? What will it take, and how long will it take, for leaders for western democracies to acknowledge, denounce and take action to end the genocide unfolding in northern Uganda? We must denounce and stop genocide wherever it occurs, regardless of ethnicity or political affiliation of the population being destroyed. The situation is worse than the one in Darfur Sudan. An estimated 1000 people die in these camps of northern Uganda each week. The forced relocation of people in northern Uganda is comparable to a similar policy conducted by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. There is no recent or present situation where all the elements that constitute genocide under the Convention of 1948 have been brought together in such chillingly comprehensive manner as in Northern Uganda today.” Olara Otunnu, former UN Under-Secretary General

    ‘The atrocities taking place daily are not only the work of the LRA. Government troops have maimed, raped and killed innocent civilians. Soldiers have engaged in scorched-earth tactics and the deliberate spreading of HIV and AIDS, often without punitive consequence. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have documented cases of tortures, rapes, extra-judicial killings, the burning of granaries, the poisoning of wells and instances of burying people alive.’ Daniella Boston Huffington post, Washington.

    Despite these epithets, the people of Northern Uganda, are met with silence. It is abundantly clear that the international community has no desire or interest to end the war or address the grievous human rights’ violations

  5. Posted June 30, 2009 at 3:59 am | Permalink

    Wow! what an idea ! What a concept ! Beautiful .. Amazing

6 Trackbacks

  1. [...] conservation blog Baraza of the WildlifeDirect network reported an LRA attack in the headquarters of Garamba National Park on January 2nd: Despite strong resistance by the park [...]

  2. [...] Naturschutz-Blog des Netzwerks WildlifeDirect berichtet über einen LRA-Angriff [en] auf die Zentrale des Garambe-Nationalparks am 2. Januar: Despite strong resistance by the park [...]

  3. [...] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Der Naturschutz-Blog des Netzwerks WildlifeDirect berichtet über einen LRA-Angriff [en] auf die Zentrale des Garambe-Nationalparks am 2. [...]

  4. [...] people including 2 rangers and 2 wives of wardens in addition to causing untold damage to property. A debate has however ensued on Baraza as to who is indeed responsible for the [...]

  5. [...] been informed that the fall out of LRA attacks in Garamba National Park in DR Congo are worse than we reported on earlier with photos here, in total ten people including 6 Garamba Park staff were killed.   Six people are still missing. [...]

  6. [...] conservation blog Baraza of the WildlifeDirect network reported an LRA attack in the headquarters of Garamba National Park on January 2nd: Despite strong resistance by the park [...]

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