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MPs attack government on Karamojong disarmament plan

Ugandan members of parliament on Wednesday attacked the government for failing to disarm Karamojong pastoralists in northeastern Kenya, whose raiding has caused chaos in neighbouring districts, the ‘New Vision’ reported on Thursday. The government-owned newspaper quoted MP Omara Atubo as saying that, although parliament had passed a resolution calling for the complete disarmament of the Karamojong within 12 months, the deadline had passed and they were still launching violent raids against the civilian population of Katakwi District, eastern Uganda. State Minister for Karamoja Development Peter Lokeris had said on Friday that the government would soon be recruiting Local Defence Force [paramilitary] personnel to back up the Ugandan army in disarming the Karamojong and deploying security forces at all strategic border points with Sudan in order to prevent further illegal importation of arms. A state of emergency was declared by Katakwi District Council on 6 August, where over 80,000 people are forced to remain in camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) as a result of the raids.

According to district statistics, there are currently 88,623 IDPs in 46 camps in Katakwi, from an estimated total population of 230,000. The most severely affected areas are the sub-counties of Magoro, Ngariam, Usuk, Kapelebyong, Obalanga and Acowa, which border on the Karamoja sub-region, according to UNOCHA. Since the start of the year, the Karamojong had carried out 52 attacks in these sub-counties, and “the threat of further raids is ever-present”, it stated in report last month.

In a report to parliament on Wednesday, minister of state for internal affairs Sarah Kiyingi admitted pastoralists from the Karamoja sub-region (Kotido and Moroto districts) had used arms provided by the Ugandan government to launch raids into Katakwi. MP Ben Wacha demanded to know how many guns had been given to the Karamojong, and how many had since been returned, the ‘New Vision’ reported. The Ugandan government initially gave weapons to small groups of “home guards” within Karamoja to enable the population defend itself against raids from other pastoralist groups in the region, notably the Pokot in Kenya, to the east. The parliamentary committee on defence and internal affairs has established a sub-committee, to be chaired by Rubanda West MP Henry Banyenzaki to inquire into the Katakwi crisis. It has also summoned Defence Minister Amama Mbabazi, Minister of State for Security, Muruli Mukasa, and Minister of State for Karamoja, Peter Lokeris, to explain to it the nature and causes of insecurity in Katakwi District.

[for background information, see separate IRIN story of 1 August, headlined “Karamojong force over 80,000 into IDP camps” at: http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN/cea/countrystories/uganda/20010801.phtml]

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: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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