Government has asked all households in the East Madi game reserve in Apaa to vacate the land for wildlife conservation.
Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda announced the decision during a meeting with the Apaa presidential mediation committee held at his office in Kampala on Thursday. The meeting was attended by members of the Acholi and Madi ethnic groups. Rugunda informed the parties that the government took the decision after the mediation team failed to agree on a common position during meetings held in Gulu in the course of last year.
The Acholi team chaired by Dr Daniel Komakech, a renowned academician from Gulu University, settled for degazettement of the disputed area for human settlement. The Madi team on the other hand, settled for relocation of the residents.
The dispute dates back to 2012 when Adjumani district council gazetted the area as East Madi game reserve. But Amuru district claims Adjumani had no mandate to do so since the area falls in its territory.
The boundary dispute had been settled by minister Tom Butime in October 2017 when he declared the area part of Adjumani district. The conflict has had its ups and downs which has left at least 18 people dead and several others injured on both sides.
In 2015, elderly women staged a nude protest in front of senior government ministers to protest their eviction from the area. They later migrated and camped at UN human rights compound in Gulu citing the destruction of their crops by rangers of Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Dr Rugunda said cabinet early this year, under the chairmanship of President Yoweri Museveni decided that all people occupying the area vacate after getting government support to resettle in undisclosed locations.
According to Rugunda, government will now provide financial and material support to all households in the disputed area to facilitate their resettlement. All individuals with national identification cards (IDs) will receive Shs 10 million, 20 bags of cement and 20 iron sheets, per household to enable them to acquire land and settle elsewhere.
According to the cabinet resolution, those who were found in Apaa but did not possess National IDs are to be assisted and will receive Shs 2 million per household to assist them to relocate. It was also directed that Apaa Market be closed by the end of March 2019, a directive which was belatedly implemented this week on Monday.
According to Rugunda, relief food will be provided to all the evicted households for a period of 12 months to give them time to grow their own food in the places they will move to.
The Prime Minister said that the exercise will be conducted in an organized, planned and humane manner, with dignity and be completed by the end of June 2019. He appealed to leaders of the two communities at the local and national level to sensitize the people about the above decisions.
The announcement comes at a time when parliament is conducting a parallel investigation into the conflict in view of resolving it peacefully.