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Leaners Stranded as Victims of Land Conflict Occupy Kwoncok Primary School Premises

The estimated 92 households with more than 470 people of Pobura clan from two villages; Lobalokodi and Lubiri villages have been staying at the school since August 22, 2021.
22 Jan 2022 11:40
Children of the victims roasting rats for lunch. Photo by Caroline Ayugi

Audio 5

More than 570 pupils of Kwoncok Primary School in Madi Opei sub-county, Lamwo district, are yet to resume studies, as their school is occupied by residents that fled a protracted land conflict.

The estimated 92 households with more than 470 people of Pobura clan from two villages; Lobalokodi and Lubiri villages have been staying at the school since August 22, 2021. Two clans; Pobira and Pobura, have reportedly been conflicting over a fertile chunk of land in Oryang village, measuring about 2000 acres for decades. Both clans maintain their forefathers gave the land to the other.

Reports indicate that the two clans had been co-existing, until in 1995 when the Pobira clan lodged a case in the chief magistrates’ court in Kitgum, seeking a temporary injunction on land use by their rivals from Pobura and in 1997, the court ruled in favour of Pobira.

However, in April 2021, a conflict erupted between the two clans, after a supposed court document started circulating that the Pobura clan members won a court case against Pobira over the land in contention. The document is said to have excited the Pobura clan, and angered the Pobira, leading to the attack that left two grass thatched huts torched, several household properties destroyed and seven people from the Pobura clan with injuries after four days of intense fighting.

Moses Oyat, the councillor III of Pobura parish, says the latest conflict started when the conflicting clans met in the contested land sometime in June 2021, where one victim from the Pobura clan lost an eye, and another had one of his toes cut off.

The bitter fight forced the Pobura to first flee to a neighbouring Pobutu village, where they stayed for more than a month, but the host clan later said they had overstayed their welcome, which forced the land victims to seek refuge at the school.  

//Cue in; “Ikare ma lweny...

Cue out…camping kenyo.”//

Oyat, whose children also study at Kwoncok Primary Schools, says his four children are still home because the nearest school is 6-kilometres away.

//Cue in; “An onongo atye…

Cue out …wa I Madi Opei Town Council.”//

James Obalim, a resident of Lubiri Village, Pobura Parish says up to 470 of the 589 victims sought refuge at the school, while the rest are with relatives. Obalim, whose children also study at the affected school, says he can’t afford to send his children to other schools, because the money he gets from doing odd jobs is barely enough to buy food.  

//Cue in; “An lutino na…

Cue out…cabun mo.”//

The refugees are now saying their want to go back to their home and request relief aid in form of bedding, utensils and tents since all their huts have been either burned or knocked down. Josephine Achiro, a victim of the land conflict says they need security in the area and a water source in their home because they have been sharing a water source with their enemy. 

//Cue in; “Lok kom net…

Cue out…dye gang botwa.”//

During a fact-finding mission at the school on Friday, the LCV of Lamwo district, Sisto Ocen, says he has sought help from UNHCR, to assist the refugees with basic needs, so that they leave the school for learners. Ocen appeals to the conflicting clans to reconcile and start living peacefully like before.  

//Cue in; “Wan wamito ni…

Cue out…wayee kiyubi.”//

Lamwo Resident District Commissioner James Nabinson Kidega, says two days ago, he called the conflicting clans together with elders to meditate but the Pobura clan did not show up. Kidega, however, promised to ensure that a police post is installed in the area of conflict so that the place is secure for all.