Happening this week: Hundreds of Apaa land victims to leave Gulu UN offices

Some of the evicted Apaa locals during media briefing at NUMEC offices in Gulu on Wednesday. Photo by Denis Otti.

After camping at the compound of UN OHCHR for one month following their eviction by government state security agencies, the 234 community members of Apaa village have voluntarily announced their exit from the UN premises in Gulu on Thursday, 16, August.

This follows assurances from different stakeholders that there would be no further eviction when they leave.

Mr Geoffrey Okello Executive Director, Gulu NGO Forum, in his Tuesday, 14, August invitation letter to different stakeholders, invited them to the stakeholders’ exit dialogue.

Dear Stakeholder,

Re: Invitation to a stakeholders’ exit dialogue for members of Apaa community at the UN Compound As an important stakeholder in this matter.

“I write to kindly invite you to the dialogue planned to take place on Wednesday, 15 th August 2018 at St Monica Girls Tailoring Centre, Gulu Municipality, from 9:30am1:00pm.

 As you may now be aware, the 234 community members of Apaa who have been camped in the Compound of UN OHCHR in Gulu for the last one month have announced their voluntary exit of the compound to take place on Thursday, 16th August 2018.

According to their letter to UN OHCHR, they arrived at the decision following multiple assurances that the eviction would end.

The announcement also came a day after a brief feedback meeting held at Ker Kwaro Acholi and addressed by District leaders and Prime Minister, Ker Kwaro Acholi resolved on the need for an exit dialogue to bring together the said community members.

The stakeholders’ dialogue will provide opportunity for reflection and sharing of transition pathways for the community.

 It will also provide space for discussing commitments towards peaceful resettlement of the community back home, including the search for a conflict sensitive framework for durable solution for the Apaa land question.

Leaders from Central and Local governments, MPs from Acholi sub region, UN, UHRC, cultural, religious and Civil Society Organisations have been invited to the dialogue.

Also invited are representative members of the Apaa community from the compound. Please bear with us for the short notice.

We thank you and look forward to receiving you at the members meeting.”

Thanks Yours Sincerely,

Geoffrey Okello ED, GNF

One month ago, Uganda Wildlife Authority, UPDF, Uganda Police allegedly evicted the above locals from Apaa village with claims that they were squatters.

Their houses were demolished, crop gardens too demolished and others claimed that they were beaten and harassed by security forces.

With hopes of getting needed assistance, they left for UN offices in Gulu from where they have been living amid problems.

Two weeks ago, this contemporary news websitereported that hundreds of the victims were sharing one pit latrine – both male and female – young and old and nothing was done about it.

Related story: One pit latrine for 234 natives, possible cholera outbreak at UN offices, locals say

Others who spoke to our Gulu based reporter, Denis Otti in July claimed then that they were even being mistreated by United Nations officials there who wanted them out from the premises.

We could not verify all these allegations as journalists were banned from seeking any information regarding bad situation affecting the poor locals.

Additional reporting by Denis Otti – Gulu based Reporter

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