*Photo credit: Torr Priaulx, 28mm.co.uk
This stark photo essay captures the plight of civilians in parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and also their incredible resilience. The LRA conflict has seen over 160,000 villagers forced from their homes. Some survivors, including former LRA abductees, live in makeshift huts under constant fear of reprisals by angry locals and further LRA attacks. Largely forgotten by the state and the international community, they are a people dispossessed.
This man now sleeps on a mat. When the LRA attacked his village he fled along the DRC-Uganda border. The local community allowed him and his wife to stay in this derelict hut. By fleeing their homes they lost their farmland and have few possessions, but they are too frightened to go back.
Children play in an empty school in Djabir village, northeast DRC. The village was last attacked by the LRA on 17 July 2014.
A message on the outside of a hut admonishing readers not to steal, belies the fears of its occupants.
A little boy sleeps while his family farms nearby. The LRA has abducted many young children. Commanders have forced them to commit atrocities against their own families so that they are too frightened and ashamed to try to escape and return home.
This girl escaped the LRA but since returning home she has not received any external support to help her rebuild her life. Many of those who return home, especially women whom LRA commanders forced to have sex, are rejected by their families.
On 17 July 2014 the LRA attacked this man’s home. They arrived in the night. He managed to flee but they stole his clothes and radio..
In much of the LRA affected region, civil society organisations are working to increase the security of their communities. Here a member of the Anglican Church operates a radio used to report sightings of armed groups including the LRA. Reports are relayed to United Nations peacekeepers and the Congolese army.
This pregnant girl recently returned from the bush having spent a year with the LRA. She is in the hospital at Faradje DRC being treated for trauma.
Husband & Wife
Vitale Tandema and his wife fled their village in 2010 when it was attacked by the LRA. They left in the night taking with them a single jerry can of water. They now live in Ingbokolo, on the DRC-Uganda border.
Aunt & Child
A woman walks with her nephew along the fire-ravaged corridor of her brother’s house. He was killed by the LRA, and his house and vehicle were burnt. The young boy was found next to his dead father. Now his aunt looks after him.