Karamoja Disarmament Saved Us - Ik Community

2046 Views Kaabong, Uganda

In short
The Ik community in Kaabong district now has a reason to hope for continued existence since the guns have gone silent. Located in the remote mountains in Ik-Kamialu sub-county in Kaabong district, the the community faced extinction at the time the Uganda government launched the Karamoja disarmament exercise in 2001.

The Ik community in Kaabong district now has a reason to hope for continued existence since the guns have gone silent.
 
Located in the remote mountains in Ik-Kamialu sub-county in Kaabong district, the the community faced extinction at the time the Uganda government launched the Karamoja disarmament exercise in 2001.
 
At the height of raids between the Dodoth of Uganda and the Turkana of Kenya, the members of Ik tribe found themselves in the cross-fires of the larger raiding communities. Residents in the area say they used to suffer the wrath of both the raiding tribes and their only protection was the mountains that formed a natural barrier. They however say on many occasions they lost their beloved ones, though it’s hard to establish the actual of those who were killed. Currently, the total population of the Ik tribe stands at 11,302 people, all located in Ik-Kamialu sub-county in Kaabong district.
 
Simon Kowon, a resident of Ik-Kamialu sub-county says they would face the fire from all directions even though they did not own any animals. Predominantly agriculturalists, the community would find itself in helpless position if attacked because their crops would be destroyed as well. Lowon says since the disarmament exercise took place, the situation has improved. He however says some communities from South Sudan still disturb them. He wants total protection from such communities.
 
//Cue in: “The ik are…
Cue out: …these raiding groups.”//
 
Peter Ciwalutiano, the chairperson of Ik-Kamialo sub-county, agrees with Lowon.  Ciwalutiano says many people got killed, not because they caused trouble, but because they were defenseless in the face of the aggressors. He is grateful that the situation has improved. He however urges government to do more to force neighbouring countries to disarm armed cattle-raiding communities.
 
//Cue in: “The previous years…
Cue out: …the other time.”// 
 
Babra Nekesa Oundo, the State Minister for Karamoja has echoed the cries of the Ik Community. Nekesa says though the region is peaceful, they are being disturbed by the cattle rustlers from South Sudan and Kenya. She has appealed to President Museveni to push the issue of disarmament to the regional levels so that other countries in the horn of Africa can also disarm the pastoral communities.
 
//Cue in: “We are greatful…
Cue out: …in our development.”//
 
However, President Museveni says at the moment Uganda cannot control what happens in other countries. He has given strict orders to the army to shoot any cattle rustler from other countries who invade Karamoja region. While in Kaabong on Friday to celebrate 50 years of Kidepo National Park,  the president said if the army fails to do that, he will pitch camp in Kaabong to ensure that sanity returns in the area.
 
//Cue in: “I told you…
Cue out: …shoot him finished.”//
 
He says roads within the region will be tarmacked to ensure that the region gets the necessary development.