Illegal Loggers on Spot for Perpetrating Violence Against Children in Agago District
Illegal commercial charcoal dealers and loggers are on spot for perpetrating violence against children in Agago district.
The dealers that are scattered within the different districts in northern Uganda—Agago, Gulu, Amuru and Kitgum districts, and are reportedly using children as young as eight as casual laborers.
Some of the children are employed and paid meagerly to fell trees, ferry them for burning, load and offload heaps of charcoal and logs with some allegedly sexually abused sexually and impregnated.
In Agago district in Adilang Sub County, an area hosting over 500 illegal charcoal dealers, several children below sixteen years were part of the work crews employed as casual laborers at a dealers` camp.
A finding by ‘’Our Trees We Need Answers’’, an environmental justice pressure group in Acholi on the 15th March this year pointed out that there are cases of teenage pregnancies and child marriages in the areas around Lelakadera village, Adilang Sub County.
The area is host to more than 500 illegal loggers and charcoal dealers who are believed to have come from districts of Mukono, Nakasongola, Luweero and Iganga, among others.
Willy Chowoo, a member of ‘’Our Trees We Need Answers’’ says that the illegal dealers are not only degrading the environment and depleting the endangered tree species but also abusing and violating the rights of children.
Mohammed Okwir, the Adilang Sub County Chairperson confirmed there are several cases of child abuses being registered within the charcoal dealers` camp but he says they were yet to make a comprehensive report.
The team jointly visited the area with the Agago district security team headed by Andrew Onyuk, the Resident District Commissioner.
In their joint report, the pressure group and the district security team say that the children said that some of them were brought by their parents to make money while some came on their own.
Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi, the States Minister for Children and Youth Affairs told URN that the level of child abuse in the county is alarming especially following the coronavirus disease pandemic which triggered financial instabilities in the country.
She asked concerned people to report all the cases to relevant authorities or better dial 116 which is the ministry`s toll free number so that follow ups can be made and perpetrators penalized. For instance, she disclosed that early pregnancies in the country are now at 26%.