2 July 2014

Uganda: UN Blacklists ADF Rebels

Photo: Radio Okapi
UN blacklists Uganda ADF rebels hiding in DR Congo (file photo).

A committee of the United Nations Security Council has blacklisted the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

According to the UN, ADF is accused of recruiting, training and using children as soldiers, among other human rights violations. The blacklist was issued on June 30. The council's diplomats committee also accused ADF rebels of maiming, killing and sexually abusing women and children.

The council noted that the ADF, currently hiding in the jungles of the volatile eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, should be subjected to an arms embargo, asset freeze and travel bans under the UN sanctions regime imposed on DR Congo. ADF rebels first attacked Uganda in 1996 but their activities peaked in the late 1990s with the infamous torching of the Uganda Technical Institute Kichwamba, in Kabarole district, killing at least 80 students.

The Ugandan army later destroyed their camps in western Uganda, forcing them into the jungles of eastern DR Congo. However, the rebel group remains resilient and has continued to operate from bases in eastern Congo. The rebel leader, Jamil Mukulu, has been a target of UN sanctions since 2011, according to Reuters.

The UN estimates ADF to have between 1,200 and 1,400 fighters. According to Reuters, a task force set up by the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo late last year to find out more about the ADF - and how it could be tackled - said the group's financing and access to weapons, ammunition and supplies need to be cut off.

The UN noted that the rebels get most of their money from timber and gold trade through smuggling. The UN task force further pointed out that the Islamist ADF recruited children through mosques in eastern Congo, and reportedly Uganda and Tanzania with false promises of jobs, English lessons and other inducements. Another source of recruitment is kidnapping, the UN noted.

Congolese officials hold the ADF responsible for the killing of at least 21 people, including women and a baby, in villages near Beni in North Kivu province in December 2013. The International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank, has described the ADF as "one of the oldest but least known armed groups ... and the only one in the area to be considered an Islamist terrorist organization."

Police and the army are still investigating an incident in Kyegegwa district over the weekend in which armed men beheaded two Christians in a church and killed an assistant inspector of police during a fire exchange that ensued. It is suspected in security circles that the attackers could have been ADF rebels.

In April, Ugandan police issued a terror alert in which they warned that the ADF was planning to carry out arson attacks on schools in western, central and eastern Uganda.

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