War scar: 300 clan members stuck in IDP camp over LRA massacre
Posted Saturday, January 19 2013 at 02:00
Mzee Samuel Ongom, 80, seats helpless at the former internally displaced people’s camp in Mucwini in Kitgum District, pondering his next move.
For the last six years, he has lived with his family in the camp after members of the Pajong Clan blocked them from returning home following the escape of a member of his Pubec clan, Mr Otim Katende, from Lord’s Resistance Army rebels.
It all started in 2002. Mr Otim escaped from the rebel’s captivity and handed over his gun to the army.
In retaliation, the LRA fighters attacked Labot Olwonga Village massacring 56 people from the Pajong.
Now the clan members blame the killings on the Pubec.
“Just like any other person, as the return kicked off, we mobilised our resources to go home but we did not after receiving threats from the Pajong clan. They said if we returned before compensating them, we would not live in peace,” Mr Ongom said.
The 300 members from the Pubec clan have also been blocked from tilling its land, thus relying on odd jobs to make ends meet.
“For how long are we going to leave this kind of life?” Ongom asked, adding that: “We are also victims of the war.”
The Pajong are demanding 13 heads of cattle and three goats for each person killed.
“Pajong clan’s demand is too high, we cannot afford it. The government should help because it also failed to protect the people from the rebels yet it is its mandate,” Mr Ongom said.
Mr Ensio Onyango, 57, from Pajong, who lost his father and two brothers to abduction that day, says: “It was a mistake for Otim to return with the gun. Had it not been for his actions, the massacre would not have occurred.”
“There are rumours that the government has resettled him somewhere else which hurts us more. We will not allow these people to come back home unless they compensate us,” Mr Onyango adds.
It is, however, a double dilemma for 300 people as the landlord, Ms Mary Acayo, has asked them to leave .
“These are human beings with orphans. I cannot just evict them but I also need to put my land to use,” Ms Acayo said.
The LC5 councilor for Mucwin Sub-county, also the speaker of the district council, Mr Geoffrey Oguti, says efforts to reconcile the two clans have been futile.
“Our reconciliatory meetings have not yielded much. The Pajong people have made their ground clear, that they want compensation,” Mr Oguti said.
The Pajong clan is also asking for the memorial monument for their beloved ones.