Ten Years after Guns fell Silent in Northern Uganda, UNEXPLODED ORDNANCE continues to kill civilians in northern Uganda
By Ngomokwe Fred Naome – Social Worker (Published 26th May 2016)
A decade since the guns fell silent in northern Uganda, UNEXPLODED ORDNANCE (UXO) remains a problem. On Tuesday 24 May 2016, as we headed to Lamogi for a mobilization exercise in Guru-Guru Parish we arrived to find that disaster had struck. At around 10am, a gentleman by the name of Orach was blown up and killed when he accidentally triggered an explosive ordinance while he was clearing his compound. As he was digging, the hoe landed on the UXO and it exploded leaving him with cuts and wounds all over the body, specifically on the stomach and legs. He lost one leg on the spot and bled severely. He was rushed to Lacor hospital, Pabo branch, but tragically, he didn’t make it.
Mr Orach was a business man with a retail shop in Guru-Guru trading center. Besides the small-scale business, he also cut timber and did cultivation. In this post-return resettlement and reconstruction period, Orach stood out as a parent focused strongly on the social economic development of his family as well as the community. After living in Pabo IDP camp during the war, he came back home like other members of the community. Like many other IDPs who returned home, he started from scratch, but had already managed to build a very decent home which is so exemplary in the community of Guru-Guru. All these efforts are no more since darkness befell the family on Tuesday and he will forever be missed at home as well as in the entire community of Lamogi. May his soul rest in eternal peace.
According to the Local Councillor (LC1) of the area, the issue of UXOs has brought a lot of fear in the lives of the people of Guru- Guru/Lamogi. He attributes it to the heavy shelling of the area during the war by military tanks, given that it was a hideout for the LRA. According to him many of the shells did not explode at the time and are still in the soil just like the one that exploded and killed Mr Orach. He cautions the community to be cautious and report any object that looks dangerous to the authorities so that it can be taken care of. He also reported that this is the third explosion in the past month in the same community. Following today’s explosion, two other unexploded ordnance were found in the late Orach’s neighborhood.
- Community and local leaders should liaise with the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF), especially the department in charge of the detonations so that unexploded ordnance can be safely removed or detonated
- Government and Non-Governmental Organizations need to increase and specifically earmark funding for facilitating detonation exercises in the different communities in northern Uganda
- Ongoing community sensitization on issues of unexploded ordnance is required to remind people of the situation and way forward during this resettlement period. It will also show people that the silencing of the guns does not necessarily mean peace has been fully established.