The army will start another phase of forceful disarmament of Karimojong next month if voluntary disarmament by the locals remains low.
Moroto, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The 3rd Infantry Division of the Uganda Peoples Defense Force-UPDF in Moroto has received only two guns after asking the locals to freely surrender illegal arms ahead of the forceful disarmament.
In March, the Commander of Land Forces, Gen. Peter Elwelu announced a second phase of disarmament in Karamoja and asked residents in the region to voluntarily surrender any illegal guns in their possession before the army begins a forceful exercise.
But according to the Division’s spokesman Maj. Peter Mugisa, they have received only two guns since the announcement was made in early March. One of the guns received voluntarily was handed over to the peace committees in Nabilatuk while the other was handed over to the Gombolola Intelligence Security Officer-GISO in Kotido district.
Maj. Mugisa notes that whereas they have continued to sensitize the communities to surrender illegal guns, the response is very slow. He revealed that the army will start another phase of forceful disarmament of Karimojong next month if the response by the locals is still low.
Maj. Mugisa also revealed that unlike the first disarmament where the army was only after illegal guns, the new phase of disarmament will also look at bows and arrows especially from the notorious category of warriors that he notes have been listed by the security agencies.
“Some warriors have now resorted to using bows and arrows to raid and kill people in the region. We have lost some people recently who were killed using the bows and arrows and we have now categorized them in the list of dangerous weapons”, he said.
He explained that they are still mobilizing personnel and equipment to commence that exercise that he hopes will silence the region from possession of illegal firearms.
Recent reports from Karamoja indicate that some youths have fled their families after seeing army ferrying fighting equipment including tanks to Karamoja region in preparation for the disarmament exercise.
Some of the youths have reportedly fled to Busia, Iganga and Gulu districts while others have crossed to Lodwar in Turkana County in Kenya.
Karamoja has experienced another wave of cattle raids and killings in the recent months.
A report from 3rd Division headquarters in Moroto shows that UPDF recovered 150 illegal guns in the hands of civilians across the nine districts of Karamoja, which is almost twice the number of guns recovered in 2019 and 2018 in the region.
Maj. Mugisa told our reporter that some of the Karimojong are now more daring to the extent of confronting armed UPDF personnel to steal cattle. His comments follow a raid at Gen. Andrew Gutti’s home in Napak on Thursday evening.
The army recovered over 50,000 guns from Karamoja in the first disarmament exercise that started in 2003.