UPDF Warns Turkana Pastoralists against Supplying Weapons to Karamojong

Brig. Joseph Balikudembe meeting with Kenya officials during the hand over of two guns to ugandan delegation.

Audio 3

The Uganda People's Defence forces have warned Turkana pastoral communities against supplying guns to Karamojong which are now used for committing crimes.

The warning was issued on Friday during the handover of two guns which suspected Turkana cattle rustlers took a way from two UPDF soldiers killed alongside three officials from the Ministry of energy in Lotisan sub county Moroto district.

Brig. Joseph Balikudembe, the UPDF 3rd division commander says that certain communities such as Matheniko who live in the borderline areas with neighboring countries like Kenya have enjoyed the ethnic links with Turkana pastoralists, enabling them to re-arm more easily and also escaping military operations by fleeing into Kenya with their guns.

Balikudembe says the Turkana has stubbornly continued to hire out their guns to their Karamojong friends warning them to stop the coalition as they could be used to commit unlawful attacks which may affect their grazing in Karamoja.

‘’We have established that many weapons used for raiding in Karamoja are from Turkana, and this frustrates our effort of disarming because there's a continuous influx of guns in the region,’’ said Balikudembe.

He also noted that the re-emergence of alliances between groups are some of the factors still threatening peace and security in the region.

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Jeremiah Ekamais Lomorukai, member of Kenyan parliament representing Loima constituency said they will have to develop some strategic plans to ensure effective security provision and small arms control while remaining responsive to community needs and priorities.

Lomorukai said there’s reluctances in their Kenyan security system but they will have to do much to re-organize in order to address the issue of insecurity.

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Bernard Lokong a youth councilor Rupa sub county said there is a need to renew commitment which is needed from the Uganda, Kenya and Sudan governments to implement existing agreements to address cross border small arms tracing and insecurity.

Lokong says that the Turkana pastoral communities should be given a condition to first surrender their guns to the government before allowing them to graze in karamoja.

He said as Karamojong they understand the crisis they go through as pastoralists and this makes them to receive any person stranded with animals but they shall not entertain those who are armed.

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However, Mana Lopor a Turkana pastoralist grazing in Naput village in Rupa sub county in Moroto says that they don’t use their guns for looting but instead for protecting their animals.

Mzee Ekeno Lopuko Zakary, a Turkana kraal leader in the same area says if the situation worsens, they will be forced to take back their guns to bury in Turkana then handing it over to Ugandan government.

The Turkana are Kenya’s second largest pastoral group and regularly cross into Uganda mostly in the areas of Kobebe dam in Rupa sub county Moroto district in search for water and pastures for their animals following a persistent drought in their areas of Kenya.