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Eviction of Pastoralists in Amuru District Hangs in Balance

A senior police officer who preferred anonymity explained that 28 of the 34 personnel deployed for the operation have deserted the mission. They cited lack of protective gears like gumboots; rain courts and tents.
19 Dec 2020 06:37

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An operation to evict Balalo pastoralists in Amuru District is hanging in balance. This is after the 28 policemen deployed for the exercise abandoned it citing poor working conditions.

Last month, 34 Field Force Unit – FFU police officers under the command of Charles Agaba, the Senior Commissioner of Police and also the Deputy Director Crime Intelligence were deployed in Kolo Parish, Lakang Sub-County.  They were backed by 184 Uganda People’s Defense Forces - UPDF soldiers under the field command of Lt. Col. Mark Ochorokuru on orders of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

The directive was in response to complaints by the local community that the pastoralists were grazing on their land unauthorized and destroying their gardens.

A senior police officer who preferred anonymity explained that 28 of the 34 personnel deployed for the operation have deserted the mission. They cited a lack of protective gears like gumboots; rain courts and tents.

Another source revealed that Kolo is a vast and very remote area without clean drinking water and that they are drinking swamp water, which is equally used by the animals. “We are also served porridge without sugar and equally eat food without salt.” The source further exposed.

Other inside sources divulged that they are in disarray after one of the officers tested positive for COVID-19. Though the patient was evacuated to Gulu City for further management, all his contacts remain at large according to the sources.   

Emmanuel Bwambale, the Amuru District Police commander refuted claims of desertion. He explains that only three of the officers have been granted annual leave while the rest are at their places of deployment.
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Maj. Telesphor Turyamumanya, the UPDF 4th Division Spokesperson says all their officers are on the ground and can be accounted for. He admitted the team lacks field protective equipment but said arrangements are underway to deliver them.

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Up to 2,243 herds of cattle for the pastoralists are grazing on over 10,000 acres of land which government and Madhivani Group of Companies jointly acquired and surveyed in 2017 for the establishment of a sugar factory. The land belongs to 209 individuals covers six villages of Kololo, Omee, Pailyech, Lwak Obito, Lujoro and Bana.

Government has compensated 114 claimants while 95 project affected persons are yet to be paid.

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