UPDF causing silent genocide in Karamoja - Kabuleta

National Economic Empowerment Dialogue (NEED) president Joseph Kabuleta (left), NEED coordinator for Karamoja Sub-region Emmanuel Chero (centre) and the NEED chief of staff Charles Basajja address the media at their offices in Kampala on May 23, 2022. PHOTO/ISAAC KASAMANI

What you need to know:

The chairperson of Karamoja Youth Agenda (Vision 2040), Mr Emmanuel Chero, alleged that the UPDF carried out aerial bombings on Nakabaat and Lotisan areas, leaving more than 400 people dead

Former presidential candidate Joseph Kabuleta has accused the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) of causing atrocities in the Karamoja Sub-region under the guise of fighting cattle rustlers.

Trading under the political pressure group dubbed: “National Economic Empowerment Dialogue (NEED)”, Mr Kabuleta likened the insecurity in the sub-region to genocide.
“We want you to know that there is a silent genocide happening in Karamoja. Today, we are not just here to talk, but to show you evidence that away from the cameras, the situation in Karamoja is bad yet it is part of Uganda,” Mr Kabuleta said yesterday during his maiden weekly press briefing in Kampala.

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The chairperson of Karamoja Youth Agenda (Vision 2040), Mr Emmanuel Chero, alleged that the UPDF carried out aerial bombings on Nakabaat and Lotisan areas, leaving more than 400 people dead.
“After the killing of the geologists, soldiers were sent to arrest the killers, but they didn’t do this, instead, they went to places such as Nakabaat and Lotisan and started dropping bombs on Manyattas (communal homesteads), killing innocent people,” he said.

“There are so far 462 people, including children and adults, who have died. Those are the ones we have tried to record,” Mr Chero who doubles as national coordinator of NEED in Karamoja, said.
Mr Kabuleta also accused the army of aiding cattle rustling by providing Karamojong warriors with guns.
“They kill the parents and push the children to the streets; that way Karamoja and particularly the areas with minerals, are left deserted and free for the government to benefit,” he said.

Army response
Defence spokesperson Brig Gen Felix Kulayigye confirmed that there were aerial operations and that if there were any causalities, there are being exaggerated.
“For us, we are counting 385 since the beginning of this operation in July last year and these are warriors and thieves shot in the operation. There is no way they are 462 people killed in this bombing,” Gen Kulayigye said.
 “It was an aerial operation, pursuing the Turkana who killed the geologists and even if causalities were registered, 400 is an exaggerated number,” he added.  

This operation is called “Usalama kwa wote”, which is aimed at disarming the sub-region by recovering guns and ammunition. 
In response to the alleged raids, arrests and detention of locals, Gen Kulayigye said: “When we get intelligence that you have a gun, we ask you to bring it and if you don’t, then we arrest you…”
Three geologists and three soldiers were killed in Karamoja by suspected cattle rustlers on March 21.

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