NEWS

UPDF, police start forceful eviction of Balaalo from northern Uganda

Brig Emmanuel Kanyesigye addresses a security meeting in Gulu recently. He said land and air patrols are being conducted to spot pastoralists who are hiding: PHOTO BY DAVID OKEMA

The Uganda People Defense Forces (UPDF) working with the Uganda Police have started  forceful eviction of cattle keepers from northern region of Uganda soon after an ultimatum issued by the minister expired.

The operation that started on the March 23 in Gulu, Amuru and Nwoya districts involved foot patrols by soldiers and policemen and air navigation using helicopter on areas where the animal keepers are hiding according to Brig Emmanuel Kanyesigye, who doubled as the operation commander and 4th Infantry Division commander.

While addressing journalists from the 4th Infantry Division Barrack on Tuesday, Brig Kansyesigye said they have learnt that some Balaalo are not complying with the presidential order which was issued in September last year and that is why there are still many animals belonging to Balaalo in the region.

On March 15 the Minsiter of Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal husbandry, Vincent Ssempijja extended the two months dateline to March 22 for Balaalo to leave. The reason for the extension was that some animals which were not yet vaccinated should be vaccinated and transported out of northern Uganda.

The operation commander stated that Balaalo who are deliberately refusing to leave will be arrested and taken to court and those that claim to have no transport means for their animals will be ushered with their animals by foot patrols of police and armies to cross the River Nile.

Kanyesigye thought that the grace period and time allocated for animal’s vaccination from December 2017 to March 22, 2018 was good enough for cattle keepers.

Brig Kanyesigye said a report by an air patrol surveillance team indicates that there are still many animals in the areas of Amuru in Atiak Palukere, Okidi and Palaro Sub-county in Gulu District. He also said animals from Amuru District are being move to Nwoya District along the River Nile.

He said so far in the last four days 78 Lorries carrying over 10,000 cattle belonging to Balaalo have been recorded at Karuma check point crossing the River Nile and three trucks of animals belonging to Balaalo were on Monday March 26 intercepted by the army in Pabbo in Amuru district heading towards Atiak Sub-county or to South Sudan.

Kanyesigye pointed that two cases so far of foot and mouth disease have been registered, quarantined and guarded by soldiers in the areas of Palaro and one in a kraal in Pader District.

However Kanyesigye said some leaders have started receiving animals from the Balaalo and claiming they have bought them which he said could be one way of hiding Balaalo’s cattle by the residents.

“Some leaders have been compromised. They started owning cattle claiming they bought it from Balaalo. We believe Balaalo hid their animals under the local people’s name,” he said.

He added that his team discovered animals that were hidden and denied vaccination by their owners for fear of eviction.

Kanyesigye said the operation that will take a period of one month covers the Acholi, Lango and West Nile areas to ensure the regions is a nomadic-free area.

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