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UWA Rangers Implicated in Terrorising Apaa Residents

Agnes Lindah Auma, the Amuru Resident District Commissioner, says they found evidence that UWA rangers disguise themselves as unknown militia to attack and destroy homes of residents in the disputed area.
A Resident Shot With an Arrow In Apaa Land Eviction Conducted by UWA in 2018

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Amuru district security committee has blamed rangers of Uganda Wildlife Authority for being behind repeated acts of terrorising residents of disputed Apaa Township. 

Agnes Lindah Auma, the Amuru Resident District Commissioner, says they found evidence that UWA rangers disguise themselves as unknown militia to attack and destroy homes of residents in the disputed area. 

Last month, the group destroyed 48 homesteads in Acholiber village in the disputed township forcing many residents to flee into internally displaced persons camp in Zoka C.

Auma says investigations by the committee established that the rangers are dressed in civilian clothes to appear like strangers from Madi communities in Adjumani district. She says they then conduct uncoordinated evictions in which they burn homesteads and loot properties without the knowledge of local leaders and the district security committee.

Auma told the select committee of Parliament investigating the Apaa land dispute that their repeated investigations unmasked UWA rangers as the perpetrators of some of the atrocities on residents of the area.

Although Auma did not cite scenarios in which UWA rangers engaged in such violence, she said UWA is also to blame for suspension of health service delivery in Apaa Township. She said since UWA ran down Apaa Health Center II for encouraging residents to settle in the disputed area, Amuru district Health Department is stuck with three consignments of drugs for three separate quarters meant for Apaa health centre II.

  //Cue in: “Three consignment for Apaa….

Cue out: “….services to be given to the people”// 

Auma says UWA and a section of politicians from Amuru district should be held accountable for denying the people of disputed Apaa township access to health care. She says the problem has been compounded by selfish political interests from Amuru district.  

//Cue in: “I discussed with …

Cue out: “…in our leadership”//

According to Auma, the last consignment for the Health Center arrived in March for the current quarter. She says attempts by her office to have Adjumani district dispense the drugs have failed as UWA insists operationalizing the health centre will encourage further encroachment in the conservation area. 

//Cue in: “These drugs are here…

Cue out: “…it was in UWA area”// 

Apaa Health centre is located in the epicenter of the ownership dispute of an expansive 827 square kilometres of land pitting Adjumani and Amuru district. The area was controversially declared by local government Minister Tom Butiime to be in the territory of Adjumani district in October 2017.

It is not the only institution affected by the land dispute.

 Michael Lakony, the Amuru LC5 Chairperson says the dispute has also affected seven community schools which had been submitted for coding in the Ministry of Education and Sports. 

The select Parliamentary committee is conducting hearings into some of the human rights violations committed in the course of the conflict which dates back to 2012. They are due to visit the area on Wednesday. 

It is unclear if they will compel UWA to answer to the allegations made by the district security committee.

On Monday, residents of the area asked Parliament to treat some of the atrocities they suffered as gross human rights violations.  

They said the perpetrators should apologize to them or be prosecuted in court for their actions which left 18 people dead and several others injured.

To date, East Madi Wildlife Reserve has no permanent UWA ranger post and no protected wildlife living in the area. The rangers come from Murchison Falls National Park to pacify the area.