WASHINGTON -On Friday U.S. President Barack Obama announced sending hundreds of soldiers in Central Africa to help fight the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel group accused of murder, rape and forced recruitment child soldiers in two decades.
In a letter to Congress, Obama said that the soldiers act as advisors in tracking down the leader of the rebel, Joseph Kony. U.S. troops will not participate in combat except in self defense.
The White House said the first contingent of soldiers arrived in Uganda on Wednesday. They also will deploy in Southern Sudan, Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Lord’s Resistance Army (Lord’s Resistance Army, LRA), long considered one of the most brutal rebel groups in Africa, began to carry out attacks in Uganda there are over 20 years, but the movement been pushed to the west.
The Obama administration and groups of human rights argue that the atrocities committed by the LRA have killed thousands and forced more than 300,000 people to flee. The rebel group is accused of abducting many children in its ranks and girls to serve as sex slaves.
Joseph Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court since 2005 under an arrest warrant for crimes against humanity in Uganda, his country of origin.
Pentagon officials have said that most of the contingent would consist of members of elite units, which will protect and lead combat units in Africa. Most soldiers will be based in regional capitals to work with government officials and local military to fight against the rebels and protect civilians.
Officials from the State Department explained that this deployment was part of a broader strategy to fight against the LRA.
The spokesman of the Ugandan army, Colonel Felix Kulayigye, welcomed the arrival of the American contingent. “We know they are coming and we are happy. We look forward to working with them to eliminate Kony and his fighters, “he said.