Government in 2001 disarmed Karimojong warriors of firearms they were using in raiding cattle from neighbouring sub-regions, including Teso, Lango and Acholi.
The campaign helped to curb cattle rustling and helped deliver peace in the sub-regions. However, in recent months cattle rustling by Karimojong warriors has intensified, forcing leaders to call for a fresh disarmament exercise.
Between October 2019 and early January 2020, the warriors resumed cattle rustling, creating panic among the general public, who had enjoyed peace for more than 10 years.
The sub-region had been a dreaded place as marauding Karamojong cattle rustlers wreaked havoc on the communities.
Government embarked on the disarmament programme, where most of the notorious gun-wielding communities were forced to surrender their guns, returning the place to normalcy and allowing tourism and agriculture to thrive.
However, during the Christmas season, Karamoja experienced renewed cattle raids. It was reported on December 24, 2019, that UPDF soldiers clashed with Pokot cattle rustlers who had gone to raid animals in Nakapiripirit District. As a result, three of the rustlers were killed and two guns recovered.
On December 25, UPDF soldiers also battled with rustlers suspected to be from Kotido District who had gone to raid animals in Moroto District. Subsequently on December 27, another suspected Jie warrior from Kotido was killed at Loputuk village in Nadunget Sub-county in Moroto District where he had gone to raid animals.
This is a replica of what happened after 1986. The warriors intensified cattle raids in neighbouring sub-regions, causing mayhem up to late 1990s. This affected economic activities and caused death to people and animals.
This resurgence of cattle rustling in Karamoja sub-region does not portend well at the time when the country has returned to normalcy.
Efforts need to be done to establish why after the disarmament, cattle rustling is returning to Karamoja; where the guns are coming from that are used to wreak havoc in the area.
We commend UPDF’s effort to deploy Local Defence personnel in the area to fight the vice and encourage increased visits by tourists to travel to Kidepo National Game Park, which is located in the region and deter development.