The contentious land is located in Parapadwanya bordering Ngomoromo in Uganda and Poge in South Sudan’s, Ayaci County. The disputed area is also one of the busy routes connecting Lamwo District to Imatong State in South Sudan.
UPDF patrols the Ngomoromo border point after repeling the south sudaneses militias out of ugandan teritory in 2015. PHOTO BY DAN MICHEAL KOMAKECH.
A boundary dispute between Uganda and South Sudan has left residents of
Ngomoromo village in Lamwo District unable to conduct normal businesses.
The contentious land is
located in Parapadwanya bordering Ngomoromo in Uganda and Poge in South
Sudan’s, Ayaci County. The disputed area is also one of the busy routes
connecting Lamwo District to Imatong State in South Sudan.
Hundreds of locals fled
from Ngomoromo village in 2015 after more than 300 armed men from Ayaci
County invaded the area, 14 kilometres inside Uganda claiming it’s their
Benson Ocan, a local
farmer in Ngomoromo village says the dispute has greatly affected their
livelihood. Ocan says he fled the area in 2015 at the height of
contention and abandoned sim-sim and maize on his five-acre garden. He
adds that although he owns the land, he cannot farm on it, for fear of
Ocan is currently
operating a small retail shop in Palabek Kal sub-county. He, however,
says that he is unable to meet most of his needs because of the small
profit from the business.
Another resident of
Licwar Parish who sought anonymity for fear of reprisal says his
farmland is now occupied by South Sudan security personnel who claim its
He says that last year,
he paid 20,000 Shillings to South Sudanese officials currently occupying
the land to allow him to grow crops. However, the South Sudanese
officials turned against him and chased him away before he could harvest
Francis Obalim, the
officer in Charge of Ngomoromo Police Post says the disputed area was
initially a base used by the Uganda People’s Defense Forces to secure
the border point. But it was temporarily handed to Sudan People’s
Liberation Army-SPLA as a base for hunting down militias that were
establishing the region.
Obalim explains that the
South Sudan nationals have instead turned the area into their
territory, making the Ugandan settlers destitute. Obalim confirmed that
many desperate farmers are currently paying South Sudan officials to
rent fertile land for farming on a territory that is in Ugandan soil.
Obalim says they have also received reports of extortion on traders plying the route by suspected government security forces.
According to Obalim,
last week, South Sudan security officials arrested a Ugandan citizen
identified as Reuben Mutalo, a resident of Kyankwanzi Sub-county in
Kyankwanzi district for illegally crossing into disputed territory to
cut logs for burning charcoal.
Lamwo Resident District
Commissioner Nabinson Kidega says what is happening in the area is
illegal. He says the governments are considering a joint investigation
into the matter, to establish the persons involved in picking money from
Kidega noted that there
are plans to have the boundary demarcated adding that a joint technical
committee instituted to ensure demarcation of the Uganda-South Sudan
border made a recent visit. He, however, explains that whereas Uganda
has raised money for the exercise, their counterpart South Sudan haven’t
raised anything, a move that could easily cause delays.
Since 2016 following renewed civil unrest in South
Sudan, the work of an 18-member AU led Joint Technical Committee (JTC)
established on Delimitation and Demarcation of Uganda South Sudan
international Borderline has been hanging in balance.