U.N. chief warns of lack of resources in Kony hunt

UNITED NATIONS Thu Jun 14, 2012 5:07pm EDT

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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has warned that an African Union and U.S.-backed military force hunting fugitive warlord Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army lacks resources needed to be effective.

The force is short of equipment, training, food and transportation, the U.N. secretary-general said in a report issued on Thursday, in which he urged U.N. member states to provide the resources needed.

Kony, accused of terrorizing northern Uganda for 20 years, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. His Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is accused of abducting children to use as fighters and sex slaves and of hacking off living victims' limbs as a method of intimidation and revenge.

"The political will notwithstanding, the national authorities highlighted implementation challenges, including the need for additional resources, equipment, training, transportation and food rations to enable troops to mount effective operations against LRA," Ban said in the report.

"Other challenges remain, including the need to ensure that the armies and governments of the affected countries are fully prepared to work jointly to counter the LRA threat, both at the political and operational levels," he said.

An African Union force began hunting Kony and the LRA in March. The force, which will have a full strength of 5,000 troops, aims to coordinate units already hunting for Kony from South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Uganda with U.S. logistical and intelligence help.

"The initiative itself lacks adequate and predictable funding for its operations," Ban's report said. "Without the necessary resources, the African Union will be unable to execute this important task fully."

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In October, U.S. President Barack Obama said he was sending 100 military advisers to assist the African Union force.

Kony's profile rose suddenly following a celebrity-backed campaign against him. A video about Kony posted on YouTube by a California film-maker has been viewed by tens of millions of people and promoted on Twitter with the hashtag #Kony2012.

"I call upon the international community to support the implementation of a coordinated regional strategy to address the threat and the impact of LRA activities," Ban said.

"Only by providing the necessary resources will we be able to ensure the success of continuing efforts by the national authorities, the African Union and other international partners in this regard," he said.

LRA violence has subsided since 2005 when the army was ejected from Uganda and now Kony is thought to command only hundreds of followers scattered in jungle hideouts.

The United Nations has said that Kony appears to be increasingly nervous as a result and has been changing his location every few days.

Separately, Ban submitted his first report to the U.N. Security Council last week detailing grave crimes committed against children by Kony and the LRA.

It said that between July 2009 and February 2012, Kony's group kidnapped at least 591 children - 268 girls and 323 boys - mostly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as in South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

(Editing by David Brunnstrom)

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