The UPDF 3rd Infantry Division has announced an extension period for forceful disarmament of armed Karimojong warriors for another three months.
The 3rd Division Commander, Brig. Joseph Balikubembe announced the extension on November 17th in Moroto saying the extended time is to allow the UPDF and other sister security organs disarm the region in order to usher in lasting peace to Karamoja.
There are an estimated 500 illegal guns still in the hands of criminals in the region which have continued to cause insecurity in the region, said the UPDF. Most of the illegal guns are thought to be in Kotido, Kaabong and Moroto districts whose communities have been widely involved in raids and clashes with security organs.
The extension comes weeks after expiry of the first phase of renewed disarmament, code named “Usama Kwa Wote” which ran for three months since July, aimed at recovering illegal guns, stolen livestock, arrest and prosecution of the criminals. At least 105 illegal guns have been recovered through voluntary and cordon and search operations, 645 live ammunition, and 7,726 livestock was recovered and returned to the owners. According to Brig. Balikudembe, the joint forces also had 350 criminals arrested, prosecuted and convicted by the Court martial since July 2021.
While announcing the extension, Brig. Balikudembe said political will from the leadership of Karamoja was key in determining the success of the operations.
A section of leaders in Karamoja have been calling on the UPDF to use ambushes and heavy gunships while dealing with the warriors but human rights defenders have called for respect of human rights during the operations.
Simon Longoli, the Director Karamoja Development Initiative says disarmament should see all guns out of the hands of warriors but the forces should do it in a transparent and accountable manner with respect to human rights.
In order to register success in the second phase of disarmament code named “Usalama Kwa Wote”, government has delivered air and motorized support to the division. Each commandant in Karamoja has been boosted with the motorized equipment designed for combat in hard conditions while four helicopters have been deployed in Moroto.
Superintendent of Police Latif Zaake, the Acting Deputy Commandant ASTU says having established commandant zones in each district in Karamoja, more forces are coming for the same operations in Karamoja to further increase manpower already in place to curtail raids.
Government is currently securing Karamoja which has a long history of conflict centred around livestock and wealth.URN.