By Teso Vibez Reporter
Suspected Karimojong warriors have invaded Kapelebyong and Katakwi districts, forcing hundreds of terrified locals to flee their homes with their livestock seeking refuge in centers.
In Kapelebyong, just like in any other conflict, the most affected are women, children, and old people. When the warriors invade, they don’t only steal animals, they kill people and also loot other properties.
Stella Ruth Akiteng, the area councilor of Airabet parish who doubles as the vice-chairperson of Okungur Sub County said that the area is the hot spot of suspected Karamojong raids.
“We don’t live or sleep in our homes, they follow us even in camps as well here in Okungur and Obulin. Yesterday the 18th April 2022 they attacked us here” she said.
Akiteng narrates that the situation in the camp has left already most young girls now going for early child marriage since they are in mixed groups with other children.
“Most family heads don’t stay at home with children. They try to move up and down looking for food and the children are left alone. With this many are now living also as husbands and wives here in Okungur” she claimed.
She said that solving domestic issues for them as leaders are also challenging in the current setting since most husbands or men are not living together with their wives or families.
“Women are also missing their husband, it’s becoming hard to resolve family issues for us as leaders, and we also have two women who were raped but they cannot openly speak due to fear of stigmatization” she revealed.
Charles Eidu is a 14-year-old primary five pupil at Okungur Community School, the only school in Sub County.
He says that many of them did not study the previous term due to the insecurity brought about by the Suspected Karamojong cattle rustlers that have since January claimed the lives of five people in Okungur Sub-county.
“Since the beginning of this insecurity, we are not in school due to fear because you cannot remain at school and die, even the teachers took off, our parents also failed to pay school fees and those who could afford contemplated paying with fear that they may pay and the conflict continues,” he said.
Lucy Amayo Women Chairperson Okungur Sub County said that as women, they have been surviving on Agriculture hugely, which would enable them to earn a living and meet their needs.
However, the invasion of suspected Karimojong warriors has greatly affected their only livelihood with many fleeing homes to live in camps.
“In conflicts like these, you realize the most affected are us, women and children. We don't have peace in homes, the little food crops we left in the villages, the warriors come and destroy, even the birds they kill. It’s hard to make a living and many husbands now look for where to hang out living with children crying for hunger with us women” she narrated.
Another lady narrates that “Nowadays we don’t sleep as usual like children separate and family heads in another room, nowadays we sleep in one place, you pee there as your children are seeing, we cannot go out at night. We suffocate with the smell of urine. That’s what we are going through” she said.
From Omokori Parish Kapelebyong Sub County, a land that borders Napak, Elizabeth Asege, an old mama in her late 50s claimed that unlike in other areas, for them they are being attacked by suspected Karimojong warriors who are backed by their leaders with the intention that the Iteso in Amokori is occupying their land.
“This conflict is being escalated by leaders in Karamoja who want us to leave this land and move backward claiming that we are in their land. They claim that Amokori here is under their land, they want us to go away from here up to Amasiniko where they claim the boundary is” she narrated.
She asked for the intervention of leaders and security to rescue them.
“We are not sure of our fate tomorrow, they may come and destroy our huts here” she alleges.
Joseph Enotu the local council three chairperson Okungur Sub County which is the most affected said that the conflict has left hundreds sleeping in mosques, video halls, and Achila food stores that have been sacrificed for them because they cannot be in villages.
He said there is fear of going to the villages now because the Suspected Karimojong warriors invade and force anyone they find around to take them where there are animals.
“On that fateful day when we lost one Daniel Otai, we were going to lose three people. They arrested two people and they were forcing them to lead them where they could find animals, finding the late Otai in the center who tried to make an alarm and they shot at him as these two escapees” he narrated.
He reiterated that the situation forced them to close schools in Okoboi, Obulin, Acinga, and Airabet areas prematurely as one of the precautionary measures to safeguard the children.
“We really don’t know their fate in the forthcoming national exams with this picture in the sub-county” he wondered.
Enotu however is optimistic that with the current deployment of security officers in the areas, hope is being restored and the few brave community members can now utilize this rain to plant crops.
These they narrated before the team of Teso Religious Leaders under their umbrella of TERELEPAR, an inter-religious organization formed by the Religious Leaders of Teso from all denominations to address issues of Peace, Reconciliation, and Development.
The team delivered relief food to the affected community of Kapelebyong District.
Rev Dr. Joseph Eciru Oliach the archBishop Soroti catholic Diocese while speaking to the victims preached the gospel of hope and unity.
The religious leaders jointly condemn the insecurity in the region asking for the government immediate attention.
They further asked the people to desist from the act of revenge, agitating that the problem does not only require guns but the multifaceted approach from stakeholders who love peace.
On the other hand, the Government has created six additional military detachments in Kapelebyong in an attempt to quell the situation according to the local council five chairperson Francis Akorikin.
Teso Religious Leaders praying at the grave of Late Otai Daniel