The New Humanitarian Annual Report 2021

  1. Home
  2. Africa
  3. East Africa
  4. Burundi

UGANDA: Cautious welcome for scaling down protected villages

[Burundi] Pierre Nkurunziza, leader of CNDD-FDD.
Un travail monumental attend le nouveau président élu, Pierre Nkurunziza (IRIN)

A Ugandan government plan to scale down "protected villages" in the rebel-hit north, while basically welcomed, has also attracted criticism that it is no solution to the army's protracted war against the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

"It is not a question of scaling down," Gulu area MP Norbert Mao told IRIN on Monday. "The villages should be dismantled and the government come up with a firm policy to step up security."

As a strategy to curb insurgency, the protected villages had failed, Mao said. "We have never supported these camps. Our people will not miss them."

"The camps were not for the protection of civilians, but to control their movement," Mao added, saying they were "major arenas for human rights abuses".

"People become totally dependent on the military and are highly vulnerable to acts of rape and illegal arrests," he noted. He argued there was no provision for humanitarian assistance such as health facilities, and that people were simply rounded up and forced into the villages.

The protected village policy was mooted by the government of Uganda and supported by some villagers who thought it would ensure protection from the LRA, as well as denying the rebels logistical support, food and new recruits. However, the policy later became unpopular with allegations of gross human rights violations in the camps.

Press reports recently quoted Gulu army commander Brigadier Wamala Katumba as saying the armed forces intended to establish more detachments "so we can decongest protected villages".

The deputy editor of the independent daily 'The Monitor', David Ouma Balikowa, said the concept of protected villages had failed and local communities blamed them for the destruction of family units.

"Girl children are victims of early pregnancies, abductions [by the rebels] still go on and there are many other acts of human rights violations," he told IRIN.

The human rights group Amnesty International cautiously welcomed the government's plans.

"In principle it could be a good idea if well applied to guarantee respect for human rights," African regional office director Patrice Vahard told IRIN. "It could allow people to go back and till their lands, but they must be assured of protection against attacks. They must feel secure."

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

Share this article
Join the discussion

Right now, we’re working with contributors on the ground in Ukraine and in neighbouring countries to tell the stories of people enduring and responding to a rapidly evolving humanitarian crisis.

We’re documenting the threats to humanitarian response in the country and providing a platform for those bearing the brunt of the invasion. Our goal is to bring you the truth at a time when disinformation is rampant. 

But while much of the world’s focus may be on Ukraine, we are continuing our reporting on myriad other humanitarian disasters – from Haiti to the Sahel to Afghanistan to Myanmar. We’ve been covering humanitarian crises for more than 25 years, and our journalism has always been free, accessible for all, and – most importantly – balanced. 

You can support our journalism from just $5 a month, and every contribution will go towards our mission. 

Support The New Humanitarian today.

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.