Clashes in Amuru, the race for land is in full swing

from Missionary International Service News Agency
Published on 21 Feb 2012 View Original

Riots and actual fights have been taking place, for several days, between police and about 200 young people who, armed with sticks and machetes, claim ownership of agricultural land in Amuru district, north of Gulu. According to the newspaper ‘Daily Monitor’ at least one person was killed and several are injured after an intervention by the police with tear gas, batons and rubber bullets.

“What the rush for land in Northern Uganda, fueled by a lack of land reform, an issue that affects thousands of hectares of fertile land on which, with the progressive emptying of the camps, focus the attention and interests of small landowners and farmers’ refer missionary sources from Gulu, stressing that the land in question had been abandoned during the long years when the Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency (LRA) terrorized the population and which have been “fallow for years”.

The land in rural areas of Acholi is common property. Before the war, each clan had its own portion of land for animal grazing, hunting and agriculture, while other parts were left fallow.

Over the past years in refugee camps’ many ‘older’ traditional communities are dead and today there are those who try to take advantage of the situation, “says a missionary for whom the situation is not as easy to interpret as one might think at first sight. “For years the Ugandan government has been accused of not having encouraged investments and initiatives in northern Uganda, or to relaunch the development in a region plagued by conflict and poverty – explain the sources – but now that those lands have value and that a company has decided to establish a sugar factory in the district from which they could come out no fewer than 7000 jobs, there are many problems.”

The same sources, the parties involved have been reluctant to reach a peaceful solution because of ”the suspicion and lack of confidence in the government, but also the arrogance and the way in which the lands in question were acquired, using army and security forces. “