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Seven Arrested in Crackdown on Wetland Encroachers

The operations were conducted in Ayago Parish - Railway division, Ober parish-Adekokwok Sub County, Bar Sub County in Erute South and Onekmunu swamp along the Lira-Kampala highway.

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Seven people have been arrested for encroaching on wetlands in Lira district. The suspects were rounded up in a three-day joint security operation mounted by the Environment Protection Police Unit.

The operations were conducted in Ayago Parish - Railway division, Ober parish-Adekokwok Sub County, Bar Sub County in Erute South and Onekmunu swamp along the Lira-Kampala highway.

The arrested include Mary Aguti, Salume Auma and another only identified as Akello, who were allegedly dumping local brew waste in a swamp.  Also arrested was Sam Awio who had turned a swamp into a garden and others identified as Pius Opio and Emmanuel Oyuru.

The environmental police authorities termed the arrest of encroachers as 'fine harvest of enemies of environment' that would send the warning to others on the wanted list.

Francis Ogwal, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA)'s Natural Resources Manager for Biodiversity and Range lands says the operation is bone out of general concern at the rapid reduction of the ecosystem in the country.

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According to Ogwal, Uganda's forest cover has drastically reduced from 4.9 million hectares in the early 1990's to 1.5 million hectares now.  During the same time, wetland coverage was about 37, 000 square kilometers but has since reduced to about 10, 000 square kilometers now.

Ogwal said that agricultural activity and human settlement are the biggest contributors to wetland degradation especially in parts of Northern Uganda. He is however optimistic that there is a possibility of rejuvenating the ecosystem if government intensified the crackdown on encroachers.

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