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U.N. chief warns African troops hunting for Kony short on food, equipment

Militant leader Joseph Kony, shown in a 2006 photo, is wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Story highlights

  • Ban Ki-Moon warns the African Union forces are short on resources
  • Joseph Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court
  • He is accused of crimes against humanity for the alleged use of child soldiers
  • He stands accused of conscripting children as soldiers and sex slaves

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is questioning the effectiveness of the manhunt for fugitive warlord Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army, saying African Union troops are short on equipment, food and transportation.

In a 14-page report to the U.N. Security Council, Ban urged member nations to provide the needed resources, warning the troops would be able to carry out their mission.

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

The African Union stepped up efforts this year to capture Kony, deploying 5,000 troops in March after a resurgence in attacks by the group left thousands dead and displaced 445,000 people in Uganda, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic, according to U.N. estimates.

Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court at the Hague for war crimes and crimes against humanity, stemming in part from allegations of his vicious tactics to conscript children as soldiers and sex slaves in his army.

President Barack Obama ordered 100 troops to central Africa last year to help in the hunt for Kony. The troops are advising regional forces.

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    The four countries targeted by Kony's army have contributed troops to the manhunt, though Ban warned they are woefully short on resources.

    "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, according to the report.

    Ban said the troops face additional challenges, including the need for the armies and governments of the affected countries to work jointly, both on a political and military level.

    The U.N. Security Council is awaiting a proposal -- by members of the United Nations, the African Union and other countries -- that spells out a strategy to combat Kony.

    The proposal, according to Ban's report, is expected to address how to better protect civilians from the attacks as well as disarm, repatriate and resettle those displaced by Kony and his army.

    Kony led a failed uprising against the government of Uganda and was pushed out of the nation six years ago. He has been moving around other countries in the region ever since.

    Stories of Kony's alleged atrocities date to the 1980s in northern Uganda and include accusations of slicing off ears, noses and limbs of his victims. There are reports of child soldiers brainwashed into killing their own parents.

    The U.S. has listed the LRA as a terrorist group and in October, Washington authorized the Special Operations trainers and military advisers to assist African forces searching for Kony and other leaders of the LRA.

    The activities of the group are tracked on a website that uses information from the Invisible Children's Early Warning Radio Network, U.N. agencies and local nongovernmental organizations to map and document recent crimes.

    A celebrity-backed video that went viral this year helped make Kony's alleged crimes more widely known. The half-hour documentary "KONY 2012" was viewed more than 89 million times on YouTube, but the video also spurred a flurry of questions about its producers' intentions, their transparency and whether the social-media frenzy was too little, too late.