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Agago district leaders to repatriate Karamojong migrants

Karamojong migrants in Agago. File Photo

Agago, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Agago district has started registering all migrants from the Karamoja sub-region who entered the district due to looming hunger.

An estimated 1000 migrants started arriving in Agago in December 2021, in search of food and security.

The Patongo urban council III chairperson Joseph Komakech says the migrants have settled in makeshift structures and on verandahs in major trading centres in Adilang and Patongo sub counties, and in the town councils of Lukole and Patongo.

Linda Nakei, one of the migrants from Kotido district says that due to the unpredictable weather that was experienced last year, they have been unable to harvest any food from their gardens. She also says that they have equally failed to provide for most basic needs, including food.

She says they migrated to the neighboring Agago district to provide paid labor in exchange for money or some dry food rations.

Jolly Ogwang, the LCV councilor Arum sub county says that they are living in squalid conditions coupled with poor sanitation. He says the district has now resolved that all local leaders should register the migrants.

The LCV chairperson Leonard Ojok Opio says the presence of the migrants possess high-security threats to the district. According to Ojok, the migrants have always come into the district in disguise of being hunger-stricken but upon returning back to their homes, they engage in criminal activities including livestock rustling and theft of food commodities.

However, some leaders in the Karamoja region are against repatriating migrants. They argue that all Ugandans have a right to freedom of movement and settlement in any part of the country.

The Mayor of Moroto Municipality Peter Abraham Erali acknowledges the famine crisis in the Karamoja sub-region which could have forced them to cross over to another district but says such communities have migrated and coexisted for many years.

Erali says that repatriating the migrants could lead to revenge against members of the Acholi ethnic community living and working freely in the districts of the Karamoja sub-region.

Erali says that the leadership in Agago should instead ask the Office of the Prime Minister or other development partners to intervene and supply them with food and other relief items and facilitate their return back to Karamoja.

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