60 Unexploded Ordinances Isolated In Acholi

1871 Views Gulu, Uganda

In short
Some are believed to have failed to explode after they were dropped during battles between government troops and rebel Lords Resistance Army LRA while others were hidden in underground arms caches.

Security in Aswa River region has isolated 60 unexploded military ordinances across the eight districts in Acholi sub region.

Some are believed to have failed to explode after they were dropped during battles between government troops and rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) while others were hidden in underground arms caches.

Patrick Jimmy Okema, the Police Spokesperson for Aswa region told URN that the ordinances were identified by residents. He says in Omoro district, ordinances have been isolated in Atede and Adak Villages in the parishes of Lapainat East and Lukwir respectively. The sub counties of Lalogi and Koch Ongako have also not been spared.

Okema explained that in Gulu district, some ordinances have been found in Awach Sub County, north of Gulu town while in Amuru and Nwoya districts, they are buried in Pabbo, Atiak and Anaka Town council respectively.
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Okema says 14 other areas in the region were cleared of unexploded ordinances last year. He says Police is however logistically challenged to continue removing and detonating the ordinances. They include Okidi North and South in Atiak sub county, Palukere, Labala and Guru Guru Villages in Pabbo amongst others.

"The force has just a single bomb expert in the region based in Elegu border Township between Amuru district and South Sudan. It is challenging to move him around the region in terms of budget", he lamented.

Lt. Hassan Ahmad Kato, the UPDF 4th Division Spokesperson says some of the common unexploded ordinances they have been recovering include tortoise grenades, 60mm mortar bombs, 82 mm mortar bombs, tank bombs and 12 mm bullets. He says most of them buried underground in armed caches of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) are being exposed by erosion and farming activities.

According to Okema, several non-governmental organizations that funded their demining activities have since pulled out of the region, crippling their efforts further.

Lt. Hassan Ahmad Kato, the UPDF 4th Division Spokesperson says the entire northern Uganda is still facing the problems of unexploded ordinances. He says he was informed of two others in Awach and Pabbo Sub counties this week.

Lt. Kato says the primary responsibility however rests with Police. He advises residents in affected areas to prevent accidents by ring fencing the ordinance with a 200 meter barricade.
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The military have at least a dozen of bomb experts specialized in detonation of unexploded ordinances stationed in 4th Division headquarters in Gulu district. However, they face various challenges to get to the field.

Lt Kato says they suffer logistic challenges to transport personnel and financial constraints to procure detonation materials among others.
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Last week, six children were injured in Angagura Sub County in Pader district as they played with an unexploded rocket propelled grenade which they discovered behind their homestead. They were treated in Gulu Regional Hospital for injuries they sustained from the ordinance.


About the author

Peter Labeja
Peter Labeja has been a practicing journalist for the last 13 years during which he has covered part of the brutal conflict which bedeviled Northern Uganda as well as the painful transition to Peace thereafter. Emerging post conflict issues such as land rights of under privileged widows and orphans, challenges of access to social services in the immediate aftermath of Lord’s Resistance Army conflict in Northern Uganda.

Labeja is now the Northern Uganda Bureau chief in Acholi Sub Region since 2014 - Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro districts as well as South Sudan falls within his areas of jurisdiction. He previously worked with The Vision Group for four years.

Labeja’s major career interests are in Climate Change; Agriculture and Environment - natural resources such as Water, Oil and Gas; Transitional Justice; Human Rights, Democracy and Governance as well as South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis. In 2013, Labeja was awarded a prestigious Pan African Journalism Award for excellence in journalism at United Nation’s UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya for Climate Change and Health Reporting.