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Police and UNHCR in land dispute in Kanungu

Part of the disputed land that has been fenced off. PHOTO URN

Kanungu, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Security officials in Kanungu district are conducting a fresh survey of police land located in Matanda parish, Kihihi sub-county.

The police force owns 84 acres of land given to it in 2013 by the Kanungu sub-county and Kanungu district councils, to establish a Counter-terrorism training school. Before this, the two administrative units had allocated 34-acres of land to the Office of the Prime Minister to establish a temporary refugees transit site.

Part of the Police land was however hired to locals while awaiting the conclusion of the process for the establishment of the counter-terrorism training school. However, a police officer attached to Matanda police post told URN that officials from the United Nations High Commissioner (UNHCR) for refugees operating at Matanda refugee transit Centre have fenced off about 10 acres of the portion given to the police.

After failing to stop the exercise, the office of Kanungu District Police Commander wrote to the Directorate of Police Logistics and Engineering for help. On Wednesday, a team of Police surveyors led by Henry Akatutungyisa, the acting Commissioner in-charge of Logistics and Engineering and Gad Ahimbisibwe Rugaaju, the Kanungu Deputy Resident District Commissioner visited the disputed land to assess if there was encroachment.

The officials also summoned the Kanungu District Surveyor Paul Tashobya for a meeting which was held at the site of the disputed land. During the meeting, Security personnel questioned why UNHCR officials were fencing off much more land than what was apportioned to them. However, Akatutungyisa declined to comment on the matter, which he said does not warrant media attention.

On Friday, Rugaaju confirmed to our reporter that police and the district had started a fresh survey to establish how much land is left for the project and possibly recover the portion that has been fenced off. Rugaaju however says that the matter has not created a feud between police and UNHCR and it can still be handled diplomatically.

Nelson Natukunda, the Kihihi sub-county Chairman says that both security and district authorities have agreed that after opening boundaries and rectifying all the conflict, they will mark the land boundaries with permanent visible features that cannot be damaged by termites.

Our reporter was denied access to the refugee transit camp, and efforts to get a comment from Tophious Chali, the in-charge of the UNHCR Matanda refugees transit centre are still futile.



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