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Credit: Julie Kubal

I am a researcher, writer and a father of three. I am currently an Armed-Groups Expert, part of the United Nations Panel of Experts on the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the past I have worked in Burundi, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic for various organizations, primarily non-governmental groups. I have written about rebels, armies, corruption, displacement, poaching and trafficking of wild animals, among other things. My writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The Washington Post, the BBC, Jane’s Intelligence Review, the Africa Report, African Arguments and the Journal of East African Studies.

I am the author of ‘When the Walking Defeats You: One Man’s Journey as Joseph Kony’s Bodyguard,’ (Zed Books, 2016), and a contributor to ‘Making Sense of the Central African Republic,’ (Carayannis and Lombardi eds., Zed Books, July 2015.)

“Ledio Cakaj *09’s hardscrabble youth — escaping communist Albania as a teen after multiple attempts and living illegally in several European countries — provided some insight during his years of field research on guerilla groups that use child soldiers. In the Albania of his youth, he says, “some of my friends turned to weapons. It was not nearly the same as in Burundi or Uganda, but I wasn’t completely unaware.” For more see this article.