FPU Operations Combat Attacks on Fishermen on Lake Albert

Since August this year when the FPU operations intensfied on Lake Albert to fight illegal fishing practices, there have been no attacks on Ugandan fishermen.
Fishing boats at Butiaba landing site in Buliisa district. most of the fishing boats,engines and nets are always being robbed by suspected DRC Militiamen on the lake Albert waters.Photo by Emmanuel Okello.

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The deployment of the Fisheries Protection Unit-FPU has helped to combat attacks on Ugandan fishermen by suspected militiamen from the Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC.  

Since 2018, suspected DRC militiamen have been raiding Lake Albert waters in Hoima, Buliisa, Kikuube, and Kagadi districts in the Bunyoro sub-region robbing fishing gear including boats, fishing nets, and engines among others.   

The militiamen also abducted Ugandan fishermen crossing with them to the DRC. They also shot and killed some of the fishermen who could resist their mission while others remained with Injuries.

After robbing the items, they would cross over with them to DRC before asking for ransom in order for the affected fishermen to recover the confiscated fishing gear. 

In April 2020 two suspected Congolese militiamen were gunned down on Lake Albert in Hoima district by Uganda Peoples Defense forces-UPDF soldiers. 

Initially, before the deployment of the FPU operatives, three to four cases of attacks by the suspected DRC militants would be reported every week.      

However, since August FPU operations were intensified on Lake Albert to fight illegal fishing practices, there have been no attacks on Ugandan fishermen.

Major Richard Mafabi, the sector commander who is overseeing the FPU operations on Lake Albert says the persistent attacks by the suspected DRC militiamen stopped following their routine operation on the lake. 

He says that although their major role is to ensure better fishing methods on the lake, they are also tasked to ensure that the security of the fishermen on the lake is guaranteed.

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Julius Hakiza, the Albertine Region Police Spokesperson admits that ever since the FPU was deployed on the Lake, the region has not recorded any attacks on fishermen by the suspected militiamen yet in the past before their deployment, the attacks were persistent. 

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Fred Mujuni, the Chairperson of the Kaiso Landing Site fishing community who is a victim of the attacks by DRC militiamen says currently they have peace and can carry on with fishing normally unlike in the past when the attacks were persistent.  

Gilbert Atugonza, a fisherman at Nsonga landing site in Kikuube demands that the FPU operatives should maintain their deployment on the lake.

  In March the militiamen raided the Lake Albert waters abducting 16 Ugandan Fishermen. They also robbed four fishing boats, four boat engines, and several sets of fishing nets from the fishermen. 

On May 20, 2021, six armed Congolese militiamen robbed 15 boat engines on Lake Albert. The attack happened at around 5 am near Kaiso landing site in Mbegu parish Kabaale sub-county Hoima district. 

The suspected Congolese militiamen that were dressed in DRC military uniform raided the lake and placed several fishermen at gunpoint, and ordered them to surrender the boat engines to them.