by DAVID AXE
In August, fighters from the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group rampaged through Ezo, a county of autonomous South Sudan that borders the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The rebels burned and looted homes, churches and health facilities, killed an undetermined number of civilians and kidnapped as many as 10 young girls, according to press reports. The LRA, which Washington has officially labeled a terrorist group, often forces children to become soldiers or sex slaves.
The violence in Ezo displaced as many as 80,000 people, in a part of the world that’s already over-burdened by an estimated 3 million refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from overlapping Central African conflicts. In Ezo, the World Health Organization reported two weeks ago that “many IDPs are still hiding in the jungle due to persistent fear of LRA attacks, while most displaced are now living in camps organized by local authorities or host communities.”
The attacks also disrupted the WHO’s plans to immunize Ezo’s children against polio. That and the stress of displacement could result in epidemics that the region’s poor health infrastructure is not equipped to handle.
The raid on Ezo was just the latest example of LRA violence that has plagued South Sudan since the rebel group infiltrated into the now-autonomous region more than a decade ago. The danger the LRA poses is likely to escalate amid regional tensions, bureaucratic waffling and faltering border security.
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