OCTOBER 15, 2009: Testimonies of LRA Attacks in Sudan

"No one can answer to this cry...?" - testimonies of LRA attacks from South Sudan

Source: Resolve Uganda

In our four years of working for an end to LRA violence and for lasting peace in northern Uganda, the staff here at Resolve Uganda have written countless reports, articles and blog posts about why US citizens should take action in response to this crisis. But time and again we've found that this message is voiced most powerfully by the courageous people who are living with and responding to this crisis every day.

In 2004, Archbishop John Odama of northern Uganda called us to action in his eloquent speech before the UN Securit Council, saying "We have lost much in this war...no more discussion, please, this is an SOS." Today, it's the powerful voice of Sister Giovanna Calabria, an Italian Comboni nun working in South Sudan, who is renewing this call to action. Recently I heard from Sister Giovanna, whose community has been working tirelessly to assist civilians displaced by recent LRA attacks. Here are her words:

"Dear Paul,

I was happy to hear from you. As you know the situation has been confused and insecure. Those who suffered most during this time were the people from Eso [South Sudan], killed, abducted, as LRA usually do. A few days ago a man coming from Eso (we have daily arrivals of displaced from Eso) was narrating that his brother-in-law who was abducted sometime ago by the LRA in the first attacks in Eso, was able to escape during an exchange of fire between UPDF soldiers and LRA. In a recent attack near Eso, the man was abducted again and recognised by LRA, he was killed and cut into pieces. There is no mercy for those that escape and are then caught again. Relatives went to look for him, a few days later, in the bush. They were only able to gather into a sack the parts of the body scattered here and there, the legs, the arms, the head, etc. What brutality.

Two weeks ago we received 40 Congolese [refugees] who managed to escape from another attack in Doruma (Congo) by the LRA, it was a sudden one, as they had already destroyed the place last year in 2008. We were told that many were killed and youngsters abducted. We have with us 7 Congolese brothers, from 4 to 18 yrs, who escaped from their village and after 4 days journey in the bush they managed to reach Nzara [South Sudan]. This is what they have been sharing with us. News came that LRA were arriving in their village in Nduru (Congo), they all started running in the bush, the children managed to hide followed by their parents. Suddenly the mother, who was pregnant, fell, the husband went back to collect her. LRA arrived, killed him and collected the mother. The children waited for days for their mother but in vain until they decided to come to South Sudan for safety. They arrived all in rags, dirty, hungry, the elder brother had swollen legs with wounds and needed to be treated as he was carrying the boy of six year, while the sister was carrying the little girl. We dressed them, gave food, accommodation, now they are with us. They are still waiting for the mother but who knows what happened to her.

Now LRA are fond of killing, when they abduct they kill some on the way and they go with few. The big group of LRA is now marching towards Darfur, they passed through Wau [South Sudan], now they have reached Raja [South Sudan]. Why they are going to Darfur to make the place and the people more miserable that what they are already? What is the plan? Why Kony is spared and not caught?

Yes, we had three days of prayer and fasting in Nzara and Yambio organised by the Bishops of different denominations, they have been very courageous and out spoken. Thousand of people participated, even us, it was so touching and effective that I am still pleading the Lord to answer to the cry of the population and give security. We are fine even if we feel a little bit under stress like everybody else here, but we are happy to be with them. I need to give also a sincere thanks to the UPDF soldiers, if we and our people around us are still safe it is due to their effort to protect us. People are still living in the surroundings of Nzara and Yambio, no one feels to go back to their village because there are small LRA groups left that are appearing here and there and still causing disasters.

What will be happening in the near future? Will LRA still carry on their activities in Darfur, is it a plan of North Sudan Government? Are LRA after some time coming back to Central Africa, Congo, South Sudan to fight against the population? I know that even if some of the LRA commanders have been killed [or] caught if Kony will not be stopped, the problem will go on. Can the leaders of the world be deaf and blind? No one can answer to this cry/ bringing peace, security, respect of human life and dignity in these affected African countries?

Dear Paul, sorry for the eventual mistakes in the language, you correct it. Please do not forget us.

God bless, with love
Sr. Giovanna Calabria"