The once hopeful initiative of voluntary disarmament of the Karachuna in Karamoja faces a significant hurdle as youth express discontent with unmet promises from the government.
Introduced in June this year to curb cattle raids and gun violence, the approach that initially garnered success now stands at a crossroads with many Karamojong youth saying they are tired of waiting on government promises
Despite yielding hundreds of guns, the government’s pledge of alternative livelihood projects for those who voluntarily surrendered their firearms remains unfulfilled.
The youth who pinned their hopes on the promise of these projects, feel forgotten and overlooked
“Surely the government has lied to us. We feel forgotten and neglected,” Locuu Paul from Kaabong cried out.
The amnesty window, opened by the president in May, urged the youth to surrender illegal firearms without fear of prosecution.
“Over 400 guns have been surrendered so far, with Kotido districts handing over the highest numbers of guns, followed by Kaabong and then Napak, ” Natuk Judith, a youth mobiliser told the Nile Post.
For each youth who surrendered the illegal gun, disarmament certificates were distributed with assurances of alternative livelihoods.
However, these assurances remain unfulfilled, leaving the youth with little hope. Efforts by reformed warriors, tasked with persuading the youth to surrender their illegal arms, have hit a wall as their message falls on deaf ears.
Lokapel Daniel, a reformed warrior from Kotido said, “Initially, the youth had willingly surrendered their guns, hoping to receive alternative livelihood projects as part of the government’s commitment but these promises have failed to materialize. That’s why the youth are not responding to our call.”
Despite the initial success in recovering weapons, the current unrest risks compromising the hard-won peace in the region with some leaders now reporting a surge in gun violence and lawlessness in recent weeks.
“Many people have lost their lives to gun wielding youth in the recent weeks. Two soldiers were shot in Sangar, and days later a tutor of Kaabong Technical institute was shot in Nakidir, while a Councilor was also shot at Kawalakol,” Karenga RDC, Filber Ocailap explains
The recent successes in gun recovery had initially ushered in a relative calm in Karamoja.
However, the sustainability of this peace now hinges on maintaining the cooperation of the disillusioned youth. Addressing their grievances and honoring commitments becomes crucial in preventing further escalation of unrest and violence.
“The government needs to reassert its commitment to the disarmament initiative by listening to the grievances of the youth and delivering on it promises. This way, trust can be rebuilt as we seek peace,” Baatom Ben Koryang, MP Dodoth West Said.