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UPDF Warns Apaa Communities Against Opening New Isolated Gardens

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The Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) has advised communities living in contested Apaa land to desist from opening new and isolated gardens ahead of the planting season in April. This is meant to safeguard against deadly tribal clashes between the Acholi and their Madi counterparts.

Captain Ahmad Hassan Kato, the UPDF 4th Division Public Information Officer announced the additional measure to the existing security deployment on the ground on Wednesday.

Since 2012 to date, the Acholi and Madi people have clashed over ownership of Apaa resulting in the loss of several lives, injuries, and displacements.

“We advise both communities to stop the opening of new fields away from our known established defences for their safety given the challenging pattern of settlements of the communities where they live in isolated homes, distant from each other making it hard to deploy forces for each homestead”, Capt. Kato said.

Adding that, “To check our force’s effectiveness, we have been conducting periodic security patrols in the contested area to ensure uninterrupted service delivery to the population living in the disputed area”.

Capt. Kato also revealed that the UPDF backed by the police has commenced investigations on prominent leaders both on the Acholi and Madi sides in Amuru and Adjumani Districts respectively for allegedly arming youths with bows and arrows to commit violence.

“It has also come to our attention that the same leaders have been illegally selling land in the contested areas after the expulsion of its occupants. Once investigations and complete, the culprits will be apprehended to dismantle their networks,” Capt. Kato emphasized.

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The army also refuted media reports and what they described as lamentations from the local leaders that due to security lapse, at least 200 residents of Apaa have been killed in tribal clashes between the two communities.

According to the UPDF, the latest of the attacks in which at least eight people were killed and over 10 others injured happened between November 2023 and February 2024, about 30-50km West of Apaa towards River Nile, 15km in Pakele Sub County, North East of Apaa.

The government claims Apaa land which measures 827 square kilometers, is part of the East Madi Wildlife Reserve and Zoka Central Forest in Adjumani District. There have been several attempts by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and the National Forestry Authority (NFA) to evict the occupants on the land in vain.

In August 2023, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni appointed a Judicial Commission of Inquiry headed by retired Chief Justice Bart Katureebe to investigate the protracted Apaa land conflict in a bid to bring an end to the skirmishes. URN understands the Bart Katureebe Commission is yet to start its work.

URN.



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