By Anne Mugisa
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) has suspended its activities in the Karamoja region following the â€œcordon and searchâ€ disarmament exercise by the UPDF.
A UNDP statement quoted by the US-based Inner City Press recently said the agency did not support the recent operations to forcefully disarm the Karimojong.
The agency warned that such approaches undermined the possibility of achieving lasting peace and development in the region.
â€œUNDP has joined other development partners in Uganda to voice concern about this exercise to Ugandan authorities,â€ the statement said.
However, in Kampala, the UNDP office could not comment on the matter.
According to the UNDP statement, its programme directed at the Karimojong pastoralists, including voluntary disarmament, was budgeted at US$1m (about sh1.8b). It said the programme was suspended after spending US$293,000 (over sh500m).
Inner City Press reported that the UPDF were committing abuses in the process of the cordon and search exercise, including killing of people and burning of homes and shelters.
But both the UPDF spokesman, Maj. Felix Kulayigye and the eastern and northeastern spokesman, Capt. Paddy Ankunda, dismissed the reports yesterday.
â€œThat is absolutely ridiculous,â€ Ankunda (left) said.
Kulayigye said on the contrary, statistics showed that the cordon-and-search had been more successful than voluntary surrendering of guns.
He said this month, the UPDF recovered over 1,100 guns compared to 636 guns recovered in two years ending March 2006.
He said when the exercise started, LCs who did not want their areas searched mobilised the people to surrender the guns.
Kulayigye said the UPDF was prompted to carry out the exercise because the warriors were causing mayhem and trauma in the neighbouring districts of Katakwi, Kapchorwa and Amuria.
Kulayigye said between June 1 and 15, 793 guns were recovered.