EU envoys are investigating the security situation in Karamoja.
The EU mission in Uganda has expressed concern about the increasing insecurity in the Karamoja sub-region, which has seen many incidences of cattle rustling in recent days.
On a five-day joint trip, EU ambassadors set up camp in Karamoja, holding sessions on security, education, environmental management, animal preservation, tourism, adolescent pregnancies, and mining.
The EU ambassadors, led by Attilio Pacifici, the Head of the EU delegation, stated that security and education are the two most pressing challenges in the sub-region.
“Understanding the disparities between what we’ve observed in the past and what’s happening now was one of the mission’s key goals. Pacifici says, “We come out with two main points: the necessity of education in transforming the region and the current security situation.”
Several raids occurred during the Ambassador’s tenure in Karamoja, with rustlers making off with thousands of livestock. The Kotido LC V Chairperson, Paul Komol Lotee, informed the delegation that on September 1, 2021, rustlers raided the region and stole 300 cows.
On Thursday night, armed rustlers carried out another raid, in which one person was wounded and injured and more than 1,000 animals were kidnapped. The raid took place at Maaru, in the Kotido district. Earlier, the EU ambassadors learned that a valley dam built by Germany in Kakamar Sub-County, Kaabong district, to give water to cattle is unused because the sub-county has no cows.
The valley dam is part of a larger project in the Karamoja sub-region that includes eight valley dams at Shilling 46 billion (11 million Euros). The dam is now primarily utilized by elephants, according to Joseph Tikol, the Kakamar Sub-county LC III Chairperson, after more than 8,000 livestock for which it was built were raided.
Since the security situation in the area improved a few years ago, Ambassador Pacifici wonders what could have sparked the renewed unrest. “I believe it is the type of issue we should keep asking since it is unclear how it happened, why security has suddenly resurfaced as a barrier to development and transformation in this region,” Pacifici says.
He claims that the security factor must be dealt with promptly in order to prevent the Karamoja sub-region from reverting to its previous dark days.
The Belgian Ambassador, Rudi Veestraeten, stated that during their security talks and conversations with the commanders of the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) and Uganda Police Force (UPF), they attempted to grasp what is going on in the sub-region and the reasons of violence.
“So we’re not folks that have solutions or even a strategy for these problems…not that’s our job. We sought to figure out what was going on and what the interactions were between the security personnel and the local population,” Rudi explains.
He goes on to argue that it’s tough to say they now have a complete picture of the security situation.
The Italian Ambassador, Massimiliano Mazzanti, is likewise unsure what happened between February and now, when he was last in Karamoja on a mission.
He went on to say that a longer transition time, during which forces are more present and closer to the community, would help to settle the hatred that has long plagued the clans.
“A possible solution is to have a discourse within the region, among the clans, because the movement of armaments and weaponry in Karamoja is a result of the causes. And, without a doubt, withdrawing forces and creating these gaps aided the region’s sad return to these dynamics,” Mazzanti observes.
The Netherlands’ Ambassador, Karin Boven, stated that they merely got a picture of the issue. She does, however, suggest that the security situation is inextricably tied to a lack of education, since individuals revert to traditions as a result of their lack of education.
Nicole McHugh, Ireland’s Deputy Ambassador, also notes that security and education are intertwined, and that there is a pressing need to ensure skilling of individuals in the Karamoja sub-region so that they can shift away from potentially unproductive activities.
The German Ambassador, Mathias Schauer, says he still has a lot of unanswered concerns about why individuals in Karamoja are ready to spend more money and buy firearms than those in other parts of the nation.