I’ll Take "Terrible Ideas" for $200, Alex

The Daily Monitor reports today that the Southern Sudanese Parliament is allocating $2 million to arming local militias to fight the LRA. (In case you’re new here, the rebel group moved out of Northern Uganda several years ago and has been causing a ruckus in the border region of Southern Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Central African Republic ever since.)

The governments in these countries have not been up to the task of protecting their civilians from LRA atrocities, so villagers in many areas have taken matters into their own hands, forming local self-defense forces. In Southern Sudan, these militias, currently armed with knives and traditional weapons, will now be supplied with “guns, communication systems and training.”

This is kind of making my head explode. Let’s have a poll about why:

Kate Cronin-Furman


  1. This sounds exactly like the rondas campesinas that Fujimori used against the Shining Path in Peru. To me, it smells like American advice.

  2. The arrow boys, as they are locally known, are not only the first responders, they are often the only responders, pursuing the LRA until they cross the border back into DRC or CAR. UPDF and SPLA are usually two or three days late to the party. Unless you want SPLA bases in every village, they can't respond to the LRA fast enough to protect anyone. I have twice witnessed the quick response of the arrow boys, who, as you mentioned, generally have homemade shotguns and bows & arrows, but also a fair number of AK-47s taken from killed LRA soldiers. The LRA has been forced to be more cautious- no more taking naps after they murder, pillage, and burn a village as they did in April- and the number of attacks in the area I live has decreased since the arrow boys started to get organized. I don't see this having much impact on the referendum, for three reasons. One, people here generally feel that, come January 9, there will be two Sudans whether the referendum takes place or not. Second, many believe certain leaders in the south are also supporting the LRA to prevent access to the diamonds and gold in this area until after separation. Third, they are farmers who want to go back to farming. (At least, that is what they tell me.) The real problem will be what to do with the armed and trained arrow boys if and when the LRA is eradicated.

  3. Hey Anonymous, thanks so much for your comment. (I deleted the duplicate.)

    This is obviously an awful situation, and it's hard to object to anything that protects civilians from being slaughtered. That said, I remain pretty uncomfortable with this, for precisely the reason you cite: what happens to these armed and trained militia members once the LRA is no longer a threat?

    Your observations on the referendum are much appreciated; I'd not heard that people suspect the southern leaders of supporting (tolerating?) the LRA as well. Do you think this is credible?

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