The rebel Lord's Resistance Army and Joseph Kony, its messianic leader, have waged a campaign of massacres, torture, and abduction on civilians across Central Africa since the mid-1980s. Their 20-year bush war against the Ugandan government, which aimed to establish a theocracy based on the Ten Commandments, killed thousands and forced the displacement of around 2 million people.
Notorious for disfiguring its victims and kidnapping tens of thousands of children for use as child soldiers and sex slaves, the LRA now operates in the remote border region straddling the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and South Sudan, where, since late 2008, it has stepped up its attacks on local villagers.
On May 24 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the Lords' Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, making it U.S. policy "to protect civilians from the Lord's Resistance Army, to apprehend or remove Joseph Kony and his top commanders from the battlefield...and to disarm and demobilize the remaining LRA fighters."
In early August, journalist Joe Bavier and photographer Marcus Bleasdale set out on a journey to Congo, Central African Republic, Sudan and Uganda on the trail of Kony's rebels. They want to understand how this mystical mass murderer still manages to evade capture despite an International Criminal Court arrest warrant and an ongoing Ugandan-led multinational military operation. The questions they answer are all the more pressing as the United States plots its new strategy, attempting to succeed where so many others have failed.
This project is made possible through a collaboration with Human Rights Watch.