Leaders, Security agencies turn to Inter-District security coordination meetings between Karamoja districts with neighbours

20th/ Dec. 2022

Top army leadership from 3rd division, RDCs and other local government leaders during a recent inter district security meeting in Amudat.

By Timothy Eodu-Karamoja 

Leaders from Karamoja in conjunction with the joint security forces have turned focus to inter-district reconciliation meetings to sort out grievances with most affected neighbouring districts.

According to Ms Betty Okello Otekat the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Amudat says such meetings are good for reflecting at previous actions but also development of stronger action points that will ensure peaceful coexistence

She said the porous border line measuring 264km from Moroto to Bukwo is a threat to security in the region and the country at large due to free entry of suspected wrong elements especially from western Pokot into the region.

She added that due to such unrestricted movements, there have been cases of cattle raids, deaths and environmental degradation registered.

Ms Otekat said due to the sharing of resources, animal diseases were registered although the Kenyan counter parts launched a vaccination drive (365.000 doses). She said this will be enrolled to the other neighboring districts of Nakapiripirit and Amudat to control any further spread.

RDC Kwen Wilberforce Tukei said his district is hosting very many people from Karamoja and Pokot with their animals but they keep stealing cows, rape women and girls something that bothers them too much.

Army officials and LC3s from Kwen, Amudat, Nakapiripirit and Nabilatuk during a recent inter district meeting in Amudat.

He appealed to the leaders to ensure that the action points they will be arriving at should not cause logger heads as they are measures to end the vise but also support the peaceful coexistence.

He also appealed to government to extend vaccination of cattle to Kwen district which is also accommodating a larger population of animals.

Nakapiripirit RDC Michael Okurut said the relative peace being enjoyed in the region was made possible by the conserted efforts of the different stakeholders spearheaded by the joint security forces of the Ugandan People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) & Anti-Stock Theft Unit (ASTU).

He said that there is more attention needed to ensure enforcement at the transit entry points surrounding the region so that illegal waragi trade can be dealt with and also charcoal sale which is rampant in Nakapiripirit and Amudat controlled to save the destruction of the environment.

He said since charcoal is one of the most used sources of energy in most urban settings in Uganda, it’s quite challenging to enforce it’s ban since even the enforcers use the same charcoal in everyday life.

He said Nakapiripirit through MAAIF imposed an animal quarantine recently due to foot and mouth disease but the influx of cattle from neighboring districts has rendered this useless.

He also called for identification of animals especially from Kenya as they enter Uganda in order to streamline the petty theft of cattle that is the current trend aided by transportation.

He tasked the ASTU to redesign the operation strategy that can deal with this new trend of cattle thefts.

DRDC Nabilatuk Jacinta Ayoo says the people in her district have started to embrace peace as leaders and the local communities have prioritized dialogue with neighbors to ensure peaceful coexistence.

She called for more efforts to bring to an end to revenge attacks that is practiced especially between the pian of Nabilatuk and bokora of Napak.

“Just last week we lost two people and two grisly injured by suspected bokora who allegedly revenged on the killing of their own people by the pian,” she added.

She emphasized on thorough searching of stollen animals by the joint security forces so that they can be handed back to the rightfull owners. She said this maybe one way to build trust but also reduce incidents of revenge.

Brig. Joseph Balikudembe the 3rd div. Commander thanked the security forces for their hard fight towards liberating Karamoja region.

Balikudembe said this meeting is intended to plant a mark stone of peace between the worrying districts so as to bring to an end the continued isolated cases of cattle theft, abductions by cattle keepers and non recovery of stolen cows.

He challenged local leaders to be custodians of the current peace being realised by ensuring that they continue engagement with their communities.

He said the dry spells has also brought some challenges which need to be handled. He said pastoralists have destroyed gardens of food especially the Pokot from Kenya and Amudat.

“The narrative that animals must eat anything green should stop as we avoid complaints from our neighbors whose gardens are being destroyed by pastoralists grazing in their gardens,” Balikudembe emphasized.

He also called for organization of pastoralists in their various regions to make it more easier to differentiate between the criminals and obedient pastoralists to avoid blames to the joint security forces.

“The UPDF and ASTU have been blamed for issues that should have been handled by the local leadership like organizing pastoralists and allocating grazing space to them, this meeting will test your leadership as we shall be assessing the progress of this in time to come,” he added.

Meanwhile during the similar engagement with Teso leaders in Katakwi over the weekend Karamoja-Teso rooted for continued co-existence.

Top security commanders, Resident District Commissioners (RDCs), Chairperson of Local Council Vs and LC IIIs , Councillors and GISOs from the districts of Nabilatuk, Napak, Kapelabyong and Katakwi held inter-district security coordination meeting at Olilim, Katakwi District.

Teso-Karamoja leaders during the inter-district security meeting held in Olilim, Katakwi over the weekend.

The Deputy Resident District Commissioner (D/RDC) for Katakwi Mr. Okwi Vincent who was the meeting chair emphasized the continued need for joint meetings if this co existence among warrying districts is to be achieved.

Mr. Okwi said that the people of Teso and Karamoja Sub regions share the same origin and have similar interests which call for peaceful co-existence.

The 3 Division Commander of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) Brig Gen Joseph Balikudembe said that the joint meetings seek remedies and foster harmony among the people of the neighboring districts in the two regions.

He cautioned leaders against multiple rebranding of livestock and delay to expedite hand over of recovered animals, a vice which turns security forces into victims of circumstances.

The Division Commander recounted a number of significant operational achievements which resulted in a calmness situation in the last one and a half years.

Brig Felix Busizoori, deputy Division Commander appealed to leaders at all respective levels to mobilize and sensitize communities to embrace prevailing peace and conditions necessary for socio-economic transformation.

Commissioner of Police, Elias Kasirabo the commandant of Anti Stock Theft Unit (ASTU) implored leaders to correctly exercise their authority to regulate animal movements.

Last week, ASTU reinstated check points in the areas of operation to scrutinize animal documents, letters of no objection, movement permits issued by veterinary officers in order to curb livestock thefts on transit and markets.

The Chairperson LC V Napak, Mr. Kodet Paul asked fellow leaders to always communicate, coordinate and cooperate with security forces whenever there are any animal thefts for ease of trucking and subsequent recovery.

He appealed to leaders not to mix issues of administrative boundaries with the political will to fight criminality for the sake of their people.

The Chairperson LC V Kapelebyong district Mr. Francis Akorokin recognized the inter-connectivity of the people socially, economically and advised pastoralists to buy land in Kapelabyong district, water animals and settle rather than moving unnecessarily which makes them to lose out on some social services such as health and education among others.

Mr. Omolo Geoffrey,the Chairperson LC V Katakwi and his Nabilatuk counterpart Mr. Paul Lokol urged top commanders to further enhance deployments and secure grazing borderline belts (pink line) between Teso and Karamoja Sub regions.

They called for improvement on the security roads surface ( mostly in affected sub counties) in order to enhance troops’ deployments and movement of civilians.

Environmental protection.

Balikudembe sounded tough on the issue of bush burning in the region which he states that is one of the drivers of criminality in the region and it’s neighbors.

He said this act of bush burning is being practiced by most criminals who lias with the pastoralists who steal from neighbors and hand over to them.

“We are going to arrest anyone found burning the bushes and bring them to book for destroying our environment such that others can learn from them,” Balikudembe warned.

Leadership and transparency

The division commander called upon leaders to be more transparent when it comes to declaration of stolen animals that enter their areas to avoid having problems with the security agencies.

“We have registered several cases of diversionary communication by some leaders who misguide our forces when trucking footmarks of stolen cattle. When the marks lead to their areas, these people divert our forces so that they can’t find animals then later blame the Forces for failure to do their work,” he said.

The commander urged local leaders to sacrifice a lot if peace is to be realized in the region by standing strong against illegal guns, criminality and cattle raids in their localities.

“I want you leaders to make a resolution as we enter the new year that to hell with wrong elements, criminality in my village so that 2023 can be a year of peace,” Balikudembe told leaders.

Cautioned leaders to be mindful of their actions if they are to survive the long hands of the law.

LC5 Nabilatuk Paul Lokol said a lot has been discussed in meetings but there is now need to act. He said every stakeholder has done their part and people are embracing peace although in a small pace.

He also called for cooperation between various leaders in handling issues that affect communities as well as encourage reconciliation for peaceful coexistence of worrying communities within the region and also it’s neighbors.

LC5 Nakapiripirit John Nangiro said as a district they want to disassociate with all elements of criminality and if any, they are liable for arrests. He said leaders should accept the fact that wrong elements exist within their respective communities and it’s upon them to ensure that such people are apprehended.

The Chairperson called for continued vigilance because the suspected Karimojong warriors pretend to have gone silent yet they only time when everyone is relaxed then they launch an attack.

Achievements of USALAMA KWA WOTE operation in Karamoja.

From July 2021 657 guns recovered, equivalent or almost the size of a UPDF battalion.

4, 198 rounds of ammunition were recovered 35, 553 livestock recovered and returned to the original owners.

Successfully arrested and prosecuted 987 suspects at the division court martial. For the numbers not to go high leaders have to work hard and save their people by luring them to return illegal guns in their possession to avoid a bunch of charges that come with the risk if arrested

The inter-district security coordination meeting for most of the local governments and top security commanders settled for a number of workable strategies and resolutions to sustain peace and harmonize co-existence between Karamoja region and it’s surrounding neighbors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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