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Mixed Reactions Over Gov’t Plan to Compensate Karimojong

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Joseph Lobot, the Amudat District LC V Chairperson, says that Karamoja needs to be compensated because not all the people in the region are involved in cattle raids and killings.
President Museveni hands over a dummy cheque to Ejang Mary at Soroti University.

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There are mixed reactions from the leaders in Teso and Lango sub-regions over the government plan to compensate the people of Karamoja for the loss of property and lives caused by some wrong elements within the region.

Last weekend, President Yoweri Museveni revealed that the government is considering including Karamoja in the list of regions to be compensated for the losses resulting from cattle rustling. Museveni was speaking in Soroti at the launch of livestock compensation payment for the Acholi, Lango and Teso sub-regions.

While other districts in Teso, Lango and Acholi sub-regions that border Karamoja have continued to suffer losses resulting from raids by suspected Karimojong cattle rustlers, many Karimojongs are losing property and lives to the same group in the region. The raids sometimes take ethnic dimensions. For instance, the Jie from Kotido district steal from the Matheniko in Moroto or Bokora from Napak district. On Wednesday, suspected Matheniko from Loputuk in Moroto district reportedly raided 206 cattle from the Pian in Lolachat, Nabilatuk district. The animals are still being pursued by UPDF and peace committees in the region.  

Joseph Lobot, the Amudat District LC V Chairperson, says that Karamoja needs to be compensated because not all the people in the region are involved in cattle raids and killings. He notes that while the Karimojong cross to the neighbouring districts to steal cattle, the impact is more felt in Karamoja.

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Geoffrey Omolo, the Katakwi District LC V Chairperson says that although it is a good move to compensate the Karimojongs, the government needs to prioritize compensation of other regions that have suffered for long at the hands of the Karimojong. 

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Statistics from the office of the attorney general indicate that out of more than 92,000 people considered for payment, the government will commence payment with only 25,000 claimants in all the three regions of Acholi, Lango and Teso. 

But the number is less than a quarter of the people who went to court or are still registering for compensation. Samuel Opio Acuti, the Kole North MP believes that the Karimojongs have equally lost to their fellow sons terrorizing the region with theft. He, however, notes that the government needs to conduct thorough screening to get eligible people for compensation.

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The Alebtong Woman MP, Dorcus Acen says that priority should be given to the areas that have long been affected by the hostility from Karimojongs.

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Simon Nangiro, the Chairperson of the Karamoja Elders Association, says that Karamoja should not be judged by the few characters terrorizing other regions. He says the region is equally affected and in need of government interventions to help people recover. 

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The compensation for Teso sub-region stretches back to the 1980s civil wars where both the government and rebels looted property and killed scores of people. The Iteso, Langi and Acholi people are also seeking compensation for the Lord’s Resistance Army incursion in the regions where several people lost lives and property in early 2000.