Friday, December 21, 2012
Ugandan rebels poaching elephants to finance war
United Nations — The UN Security Council has demanded an investigation into reports that Lord's Resistance Army rebels are killing elephants for ivory to raise cash. The 15-member council also called for an inquiry into sources of financing and supplies for the rebel band led by Joseph Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. A council statement ordered UN leader Ban Ki-moon to draw up plan to reinvigorate the international hunt for Kony by the end of February. The statement also called on the United Nations and African Union "to jointly investigate the LRA's logistical networks and possible sources of illicit financing, including alleged involvement in elephant poaching and related illicit smuggling." While nations believe they have Kony on the run, his rebels are still causing deadly chaos across remote jungle areas of Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and South Sudan. A recent UN report said the rebels were responsible for the deaths of 39 civilians in at least 180 attacks this year. The UN says about 450,000 people have been displaced in areas where the rebels operate. The LRA has turned to ivory trafficking and also extended its area of operations, a UN Security Council meeting was told Tuesday. "There are credible reports of the LRA poaching elephants in DR Congo and illegally trafficking ivory," said Jeffrey DeLaurentis, a deputy US ambassador. Most poaching has been reported around the Garamba National Park in DR Congo, according to the rebel-tracking group Resolve. One woman who escaped the LRA in April reported that rebels in Garamba "were ordered by Kony to kill elephants and send their tusks to him," said a recent Resolve report. Park rangers reported finding three dead elephants and having confiscated tusks from suspected LRA forces after a battle, the group added. This year, the LRA has carried out attacks as far west as Bangassou in Central African Republic, where scores of men, women and children were abducted in September.