UPDF Deploys In Apaa
More soldiers have been deployed in Apaa, a chunk of land claimed by both Amuru and Adjumani districts, the army has said.
The deployment follows a directive issued by the Chief of Defence Forces, Gen David Muhoozi following escalation of violence in the area in recent weeks.
Gen Muhoozi was speaking during the launch of Tarehe Sita activities in Kitgum district at Kitgum Core PTC in Pager Division on Thursday last week.
Five people have been injured, 48 huts razed and several persons detained in recent weeks following attacks by unknown people armed with bows and arrows on Juka B village in Apaa which locals say is in Amuru district
Following the escalation of insecurity in Apaa, it has been reported by local leaders that 2,100 people have since fled their homes to Juka trading centre, and are living in what they says is now effectively an internally displaced persons camp (IDP), more than a decade since the last camp was closed in northern Uganda due to conflict between the Ugandan government and the Lords Resistance Army (LRA).
The Adjumani Resident District Commissioner Mr Peter Taban Dada confirmed to Acholi Times in an interview on Saturday that additional UPDF soldiers from fourth Division barracks in Gulu have been deployed already in Apaa.
“I visited the Apaa land yesterday [Friday] there are more soldiers deployed to help keep the locals safe. I cannot however disclose the numbers because this is a security matter,” Mr Dada said. According to Mr Dada, the army has also conducted an aerial check of the disputed land for security reasons he did not disclose.
Amid the deployment of soldiers in Apaa, forceful evictions have continued in Acholi Ber and Punu Dyang villages, where local leaders have reported that more than 40 huts were razed down between January 28th and January 31st by Uganda Wildlife Authority [UWA] rangers.
But according to Mr Dada, the evictions are in areas where locals are rushing to settle in Zoka Central Forest Reserve against the directives of President Museveni banning any new settlement.
“There are people who are erecting structures in the forest reserves. They had never even been in the area before. We don’t know where they are coming from, those are the people being evicted,” Dada said.
But the Amuru District Chairperson Mr Michael Lakony says much as the deployment is a good initiative towards ensuring safety of people, little is being done by government to bring perpetrators of Apaa land crisis to books.
Lakony said since 2012, when the land squabbles began, victims of the Apaa land attacks have not got any assistance from the government.
“We want government not to just respond by deploying in the area to shield the perpetrators of crimes, they should look at bringing to book those implicated in the ongoing attacks,’’ said Lakony.
Last week the speaker of parliament, Rebecca Kadaga directed Office of the Prime Minister to immediately support thousands of people recently displaced in Apaa land with food aid and shelter.
An estimated 26,000 people currently live on the disputed Apaa land.