An important obstacle has emerged in the once-hopeful effort of voluntary disarming of the Karachuna in Karamoja: the youth’s dissatisfaction with the government’s unfulfilled promises.
The strategy, which was implemented in June of this year with the intention of reducing gun violence and livestock raids, is currently at a crossroads because many young Karamojong people are sick of waiting for the government to deliver on its promises.
In spite of the fact that hundreds of firearms were turned in, the government has not yet implemented the alternative livelihood programs that it had promised to those who willingly turned in their weapons.
The kids who were led to believe in these programs no longer feel heard or valued.
We must have been deceived by the administration. In a cry for help, Kaabong’s Locuu Paul expressed how abandoned and forgotten his people felt.
Young people were encouraged to turn up their illegal guns during the president’s amnesty window, which was opened in May, without fear of punishment.
“The districts of Kotido, Kaabong, and Napak have surrendered the highest numbers of guns, with over 400 guns total,” Natuk Judith, a youth mobilizer, told the Nile Post.
Along with promises of new employment opportunities, disarming certificates were given to every young person who turned in their illegal firearm.
But these promises have not materialized, so the young people have little reason to believe. A group of former fighters whose mission it is to convince young people to give up their illegal weapons have run into an impasse since no one is listening to them.
“At first, the youth had willingly relinquished their guns, hoping to receive alternative livelihood projects as part of the government’s commitment, but these promises have failed to materialize,” stated Lokapel Daniel, a rehabilitated warrior from Kotido. The kids are not answering our call because of it.
Some regional leaders have reported an uptick in gun violence and lawlessness in the past few weeks, casting doubt on the viability of the recently achieved calm in the area. This is in addition to the earlier successes in retrieving guns.
The past few weeks have seen a tragic loss of life at the hands of young people armed with firearms. According to Filber Ocailap of the Karenga RDC, “two soldiers were shot in Sangar, a tutor of Kaabong Technical institute was shot in Nakidir days later, and a councilor was shot at Kawalakol.”
At first, there was a sense of peace in Karamoja after the recent triumphs in recovering guns.
But keeping the disillusioned millennials on board is now crucial to making this peace last. Prevention of future escalation of unrest and violence depends on addressing their complaints and keeping pledges.
The administration must address the concerns of the younger generation and fulfill its commitments to the disarmament project if it wants to restore faith in it. Then, as we work toward peace, Baatom Ben Koryang and MP Dodoth West may regain each other’s confidence.