Apaa land wrangle: Residents abandon farms over insecurity

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More than 100 local farmers who had settled in the disputed Apaa Parish, Juka village in Adjumani District have for the last one month abandoned their farmlands over fears of being attacked by thugs.

The farmers, mostly Acholi fled from their farmlands on March 17 after they were attacked by a group of unknown people who were fighting over the disputed land.

The land in question is part of the 40 square kilometre land the government demarcated in September 2015 and handed to Adjumani District Local Government.

It has been at the centre of disputes by residents in Amuru and Adjumani districts over the past years.

Joseph Onek 35, a peasant farmer, was killed in the May 17 attack while 138 grass thatched huts were torched by the attackers who were wielding clubs, spears, machetes, bows and arrows.

Ms Polina Adwor, 52, whose two huts were burnt in the March attacks told Daily Monitor on Sunday that she has since failed to go back to her home and farm arguing that the attackers have taken over the area.

According to Ms Adwor, her recent attempt to check on her home and garden nearly cost her life after unknown men armed with machetes and spears warned her never to cross the area again.
She said the unknown men have planted millet on her garden while her huts have been demolished.

Ms Adwor is currently taking refuge at her daughter- in -law’s home.

She is unsure whether she will grow crops this year if the government doesn’t intervene to restore calm between the two communities.

Mr Bosco Atube, a businessman in Juka village, whose brother Onek was killed said he has since been unable to farm again after the attack.

“I cannot risk my life going back to my farm because we got reports that there are people who have begun cultivating on it already. We have nowhere else to go to and all we are seeing is possibility of famine,” Mr Atube said.

Recently, the speaker of the East African Parliament, Mr Dan Kidega, donated 100 tarpaulins for shelter to the affected people.

But according to Mr Atube, the tarpaulins have not solved the problems of the affected people, who are currently starving since their food stuff was destroyed.

Mr Sit-well Loum, the LCI chairperson of Apaa Sub-county, said majority of the affected people are staying with their relatives while others fled to urban areas to do casual jobs for survival.

Mr Gilbert Olanya, the Kilak South Member of Parliament in Amuru District, who visited the affected farmers on Sunday, said he has already informed the Office of the Prime Minister about the plight of the farmers.

He blamed the leadership in Adjumani District for allegedly fuelling the attacks on the residents they are supposed to lead.

Adjumani District chairperson James Leku, when contacted in a telephone interview on Monday, said he was unaware of the plight of the residents and the alleged armed men who have invaded their farmland.

“If they have problems that their huts were burnt and food stuff looted, let them [complainants] come with a written petition in my office so the district can help them,” Mr Leku said.

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