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Arrow boys

Simon Peter Gamana (right) and Charles Gorden patrol the forest near their village of Riimenze, in Southern Sudan's Western Equatoria State, on the look out for the Lord's Resistance Army, which has displaced tens of thousands in recent months along the border area. Many believe the northern Sudan government is behind the attacks in its desire to destabilize the south in the period leading to a January 2011 referendum on secession.

Last Saturday South Sudan became an independent nation. Incredibly good news. Yet the new country faces a variety of challenges, both internal and external. Among the latter is the continuing threat of the Lord’s Resistance Army, which has long served in the area as a proxy militia for Khartoum. Last November I traveled to Yambio, along the southern border of what’s now South Sudan. Resident of the area’s jungle villages, tired of repeated attacks by the LRA, which operates out of bases across the border in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic, have formed local militias to defend their families and communities from the terror of the LRA. Dubbed the “Arrow Boys” because of the relatively simple weapons they carry, they have nonetheless leveraged their superior knowledge of local conditions into a effective defense. I went on patrol with some Arrow Boys near the village of Riimenze, and here’s an image from that experience. Simon Peter Gamana is on the right; behind him is Charles Gorden. Here’s a story about them. And here’s a story about one boy who was kidnapped by the LRA and later managed to escape.

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