Acholi Leaders Back Move By Apaa Residents to Pitch Camp in UN Compound

2743 Views Gulu, Uganda

In short
The group says they are sensing danger after Electoral Commission stripped them of their rights to vote by de-gazetting the area from the electoral database last Friday. They told URN stripping them of voting right is indicative that the brutal forces will return to haunt them after February evictions left several homes burnt down.

Amuru district leaders have backed move by residents of disputed villages in Apaa township to camp at UN compound in Gulu Town for safety and refuge.
 
This morning a group of residents from Apaa township numbering more than 200 entered the offices of UN Human Rights in Gulu Town seeking refuge from what they described as torture, human rights violations and destruction of livelihoods by state agencies.
 
They accuse soldiers of Uganda people's Defense Forces - UPDF, Uganda Police Force - UPF and rangers of Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) as well as Forests Guards of National Forestry Authority (NFA) for the alleged violations.  
 
Their move comes after President Yoweri Museveni snubbed a visit to the disputed area to try and resolve the longstanding dispute twice last Month. The conflict is related to the land use clause of the area, its geographical location and ownership.
 
Amuru district is challenging decision by local government ministry which declared the area part of Adjumani district last year saying the area has been under its full jurisdiction and control since colonial days.
 
Meanwhile, Uganda Wildlife Authority - UWA and the National Forestry Authority NFA claim ownership as Madi Wildlife Reserve and Part of Zoka Forest Reserve respectively.
 
The group says they are sensing danger after Electoral Commission stripped them of their rights to vote by de-gazetting the area from the electoral database last Friday. They told URN stripping them of voting right is indicative that the brutal forces will return to haunt them after February evictions left several homes burnt down.
 
On Wednesday night, the group decided to migrate and camp at UN Human rights offices in Gulu Town. Now, Amuru district leaders say taking refuge at the UN offices is the last option the residents have to secure their land rights and safety.
 
Michael Lakony, the Amuru district chairperson says the residents opted to seek the intervention of United Nations after numerous efforts to engage government and the office of the president yielded little outcomes.
 
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Lakony says stripping the group of their voting rights in the recent Local Council elections coupled with influx of a new group of settlers numbering more than 1,000 from Adjumani district is more than adequate for the group to enter displacement.
 
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URN could not independently verify the claims of the new influx to the area. 

Anthony Akol, the Kilak north Member of Parliament adds that the residents have been stretched to the limit with the numerous violations of decisions of state institutions including Parliament and the Executive arm of government.
 
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The leaders were speaking while visiting the displaced persons in front of UN Offices on Samuel Doe Road in Lower Churchill Drive Laroo Division in Gulu Town. They were flanked by Gulu Woman Member of Parliament Betty Aol Ochan and Pader Woman Member of Parliament Lucy Achiro Otim.
 
The leaders were mobilizing relief for the displaced group of people.
 
Ends. 

 

About the author

Peter Labeja
Peter Labeja has been a practicing journalist for the last 13 years during which he has covered part of the brutal conflict which bedeviled Northern Uganda as well as the painful transition to Peace thereafter. Emerging post conflict issues such as land rights of under privileged widows and orphans, challenges of access to social services in the immediate aftermath of Lord’s Resistance Army conflict in Northern Uganda.

Labeja is now the Northern Uganda Bureau chief in Acholi Sub Region since 2014 - Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro districts as well as South Sudan falls within his areas of jurisdiction. He previously worked with The Vision Group for four years.

Labeja’s major career interests are in Climate Change; Agriculture and Environment - natural resources such as Water, Oil and Gas; Transitional Justice; Human Rights, Democracy and Governance as well as South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis. In 2013, Labeja was awarded a prestigious Pan African Journalism Award for excellence in journalism at United Nation’s UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya for Climate Change and Health Reporting.