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Street children blamed for destructive fire in Gulu

Some of the grass thatched huts torched in Gulu

Gulu, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT | Police in Gulu have blamed street children for the devastating fire that razed over 10 huts in Kanyagoga Parish in Gulu City West Division, on Wednesday. Preliminary findings recorded in a general inquiry file at Gulu Central Police Station indicate that 11 huts were burnt leaving 11 families homeless and property worth millions of shillings destroyed.

Aswa River Region Police Spokesperson Patrick Jimmy Okema disclosed that preliminary evidence gathered by a team of detectives shows that street children locally referred to as Aguu, started the fire. However, their motive remains unknown.

Kanyagoga Parish is one of the congested urban slums in Gulu City harbouring hundreds of homeless  teenagers who have also been accused of masterminding nighttime criminal activities like theft, burglary and substance abuse, among others.

Local authorities in Gulu estimates that there are over 500 street children across Layibi-Bardege and Pece-Laroo that have been merged to form Gulu West and East Divisions respectively. Dozens of them have been forced on the street by domestic violence and poverty.

But Gulu District Chairman Martin Ojara Mapenduzi says that over 250 of the street children are undergoing rehabilitation in three different centres being manned by Favor of God Ministry, Hashtag and Generation in Action to scale down their criminal activities.

Gulu District Woman MP Betty Aol Ocan who paid homage to the affected families implored parents to play vigorous roles in raising children and protect them from becoming a public nuisance.

In 2019, 22 huts were set ablaze by unknown arsonists still linked to street criminals in Aywee and Cubu A/B villages in Gulu East City Division.

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