Further to the release sent out on 7 June, we are pleased to report that the security situation at Garamba has stabilised with the assistance of Congo military (FARDC) and UN special forces (MONUSCO) who have temporarily moved into the park. As a result of the resulting increase in patrolling, we believe that LRA operatives have probably been driven out of the park.
We wish to thank all those who expressed concern and support after our announcement of the LRA attack in Garamba close to park headquarters on 6 June. The situation remained tense in the immediate aftermath with our guards encountering another 20 LRA operatives on June 7th, who fortunately fled leaving behind supplies including a quantity of elephant meat.
As a result of our requests for help following these incidents, FARDC agreed to provide 100 military personnel to help patrol the park for a month, and provided ammunition to replenish our supplies. MONUSCO troops were also sent to investigate the situation. Military helicopters were also provided by MONUSCO to survey the park from the air. During this surveillance, a camp was identified 20 km north-west of where game guards had encountered the LRA, however it had been recently deserted. At the site where the LRA firefight took place on 6 June, our guards found two elephant carcasses and numerous AK47 and machine gun cartridges.
Our belief is that the LRA has retreated to the Azande hunting reserve north-west of Garamba, which is densely forested, however we have every expectation that they will return to the park unless an ongoing military presence is secured. As a result we are continuing to lobby within the DRC, Europe and the USA for a military team to be seconded to the park on an ongoing basis. Our efforts resulted in human rights organizations highlighting Garamba in an LRA submission to the UN Security Council on Friday.
At African Parks level, we are engaging a military specialist to spearhead our law enforcement efforts at Garamba and have appointed a task-team to formulate a long-term security plan for the park. The recent LRA encounters and onslaught of elephant poaching have us more determined than ever to put successful strategies in place to ensure Garamba’s long-term survival.
For further information, please contact:
Peter Fearnhead: African Parks – firstname.lastname@example.org
Jane Edge: African Parks – email@example.com