- Updated by Faith Barbara Namagembe at 1039 EAT on Monday 2 May 2022.
Over 378 guns collected from Karimojong warriors have been burnt by the army “to show how useless the weapons are.”
The Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) has been participating in the campaign with the African Amnesty on the voluntary surrender of illicit weapons held by civilians in Karamoja sub-region. The guns were torched on April 30, 2022, at Kotido air strip in the presence of local leaders, community and the joint security forces with the main aim of discouraging the circulation of illegal firearms.
Karamoja sub-region has been experiencing renewed insecurity following intensified cattle rustling, attacks on civilians and security by suspected warriors from within the region and neighbouring Kenya.
Maj Gen Geoffrey Katsigazi Tumusiime, the deputy inspector general of police who represented the Internal Affairs minister presided over the burning of illegal firearms that were recovered from all the nine districts of Karamoja between 2018 and 2022.
Tumusiime noted that Karamoja has suffered at the hands of few individuals who illegally possess firearms, rendering the whole community vulnerable. Tumusiime condemned cattle rustling, saying that the government has got more development programs, which the people of Karamoja should embrace.
He also urged the leaders at all levels, elders and community to have one voice in the fight against insecurity and work together with the forces to ensure that all illegal guns are collected from the hands of the wrong elements. Florence Kirabira, the coordinator of the small arms control program, said that the Africa Amnesty Commission campaign, which came to an end on April 30th in Karamoja sub-region started on January 23, 2022.
Kirabira said the main aim was to promote initiatives for voluntary surrender and collection of illicit weapons from the civilian population in the country in line with the AU “Silencing the Guns in Africa by 2030” declaration. Kirabira revealed that even if the time has elapsed for the campaign, the voluntary hand over of illegal guns continues until peace is realized in the region.
“When you volunteer surrender of a gun, you will not be prosecuted, you will not be humiliated, you will be given privacy in order not to disclose you as somebody who have been owning this gun. And this is what this period was all about – to provide that amnesty time for people to volunteer the surrender because we know a section of the population as we were moving around during this operation, many of them were expressing their fatigue in owning these guns,” said Kirabira.
The UPDF 3rd Division commander, Brig Gen Joseph Balikudembe observed that the burning of the illegal firearms confirms that as security, they are not interested in the guns collected from warriors. He said that their statistics shows that Kotido is in the lead with illegal firearms followed by Nabilatuk.
Balikudembe said that many of these guns were collected from Kotido district which prompted them to conduct the burning of guns in Kotido so the community can know that what they are owning is useless.
Paul Lote Komol, the kotido LC V chairperson applauded security for the great job done to bring peace to the region. Komol said as leaders of Kotido, they are willing to work together with security forces to ensure that they regain their lost peace.
Peter Lokii, the Jie county MP in Kotido Municipality said security should mind about stopping the flow of guns from the neighbouring countries like Kenya and Sudan to Karamoja. Lokii says once the sources of these guns are closed, there will be no other chance for more guns to cross into Karamoja after the disarmament.