James Bevan
Weapon specialist and conflict analyst
James Bevan
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The Lord's Resistance Army, Northern Uganda 2005-2006

In early 2005 the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), led by Joseph Kony, intensified operations in northern Uganda. While the group subsequently shifted its activities to neighbouring countries, 2005-2006 witnessed a resurgence in its activities; particularly in the Gulu and Kitgum districts of Uganda.

The LRA had fought an insurgency against the Government of Uganda for almost two decades, notably perpetrating atrocities against the civilian population of the north, including mass killings and mutilations. It relied on the abduction of children to create a fighting force; some of whom were as young as 8 years old. Once abducted from their homes, the LRA conditioned these children to become fighters, forcing them to kill their families and friends.

I traveled to northern Uganda in order to assess the role that small arms played in the conflict and the LRA's sources of weapon. The research entailed  interviewing captured LRA fighters, including child combatants, in order to determine the LRA's acquisition, deployment and use of small arms and ammunition.

This was one of the most challenging of my field research assignments; primarily because of the suffering experienced by the people I interviewed; whether victims of attack by the LRA or the rank and file of the group.

I published my findings in a chapter of the 2006 Small Arms Survey Yearbook in addition to an analysis presented in the Journal of Civil Wars. These findings have been cited by a number of studies on Uganda's 'northern conflict'; primarily because they were the first to adopt a strategic, field-based appraisal of the LRA's acquisition, maintenance and use of weapons.

I have since advised a number of organizations, including United Nations agencies, on the LRA and the conflict in northern Uganda more generally.

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