Explosive Fragments of War Still a Threat in Acholi

1109 Views Kitgum, Uganda

In short
The fragments of the war, according to the army include military weapons and ammunition like bombs, rockets, artillery shells, mortars, landmines and grenades, among others, that were used by the fighters but failed to detonate as intended.

Deadly explosive remnants of war continue to endanger civilians in several districts of northern Uganda several years after an end of a two-decade rebellion waged by the Lord's Resistance Army - LRA.

The fragments of the war, according to the army include military weapons and ammunition like bombs, rockets, artillery shells, mortars, landmines and grenades, among others, that were used by the fighters but failed to detonate as intended.

Although the exact number and location of ordnances placed in northern Uganda is not known, efforts at mapping and injury reports have shown that the districts of Amuru, Lamwo, Gulu, Kitgum and Pader are the most affected.

Lamwo Resident District Commissioner-RDC James Nabinson Kidega says community accounts reveal that these weapons are usually positioned in village fields, near roads, around water sources like wells, institutions like schools and health facilities.
 
Cue in; "Actually within this...
Cue out… come and dismantle it."//
 
Kidega further explained that there are up to five fragments that were not destroyed in Abera, a newly created Sub County from Palabek Gem. He disclosed that the prevalence of mines and explosive fragments must not be ignored as their presence leads to significant health, social, environmental and economic hazards.
 
Cue in; "These are real facts...
Cue out… this was the challenge."//
 
In neighbouring Pader district, a team of de-mining experts from the Engineering Brigade of the UPDF detonated 33 bombs and over 60 have been mapped by the district security team.

UPDF 4th Division Spokesperson Maj. Caesar Olweny says the leftovers of war may take over five decades to get clear. Maj. Olweny told Ugandan Radio Network that the work of the UPDF Engineering Brigade is hampered by little or no information on the location of the ordinances.

In May 2006, The United Nations Development Programme - UNDP handed over an assortment of de-mining equipment and vehicles to the National Mine Action Programme in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM). The donation of equipment and training of over 60 de-miners marked the beginning of the commitment of the partnership between UNDP and Uganda government in clearing landmines and other unexploded ordinances in the country.

Since 2006, the National Mine Action Programme in collaboration with Danish De-mining Group, the humanitarian mine action unit of the Danish Refugee Council, recovered and destroyed over 7,500 anti-personnel and anti-tank mines.
 
Statistical Context

In January 2018 security officials in Wol sub-county, Agago district detonated three mortar bombs suspected to have been left by Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) combatants. They had all been uncovered by bush-fires in the area.

During the same month, two pupils of Otwee Primary School in Amuru district were critically injured when an anti-tank bomb exploded as they played with it.

Earlier in January 2017, six children from Libi village in Pader District severely injured after a bomb which they were playing with exploded. The same year in Kitgum district, a collection of more than 10 ammo was recovered after a bush-fire swept through the bushes of Tumangu village in Labongo-Akwang sub-county, about 10 kilometres West of Kitgum town.