By Dennis Ojwee
ABOUT 190,000 people are still living in the internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps in northern Uganda, an official of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said.
Mohamed God Boudin made the disclosure during a camp demolition at Coo-Peke-Kwene in Bungatira sub-county, Gulu district, on Thursday. This was the 10th camp to be demolished in the district.
Over 1.8 million people in the north were displaced into camps since 1996, when the Lordâ€™s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel war heightened in Acholi, Lango and Teso sub-regions.
Gaodensio Okee, 69, who had been living in Coo-Peke-Kwene camp, hailed the Government for destroying the camps, saying this would foster development in the region.
â€œThis will make the Acholi able to start meaningful agricultural practices on their land,â€ Okee said.
The Gulu district LC5 vice-chairman, McMot Kitara, who officiated at the demolition, said there would be minimal cases of land wrangles if the displaced persons returned to their villages.
â€œThose who went first could be the ones grabbing land because they took advantage of the absence of the others who were still in the camps,â€ Kitara said.
The other camps that have been demolished include Odek, Lugore, Omel, Apem, Palaro and Awac in Aswa county.
Others are Koc-Ongako, Bobi, Okwir, Awoo, Awere, Lalogi, Opit, St. Thomas-Minakulu, Alokolum and Dino in Omoro county.
Boudin said the UNHCR had built over 50,000 houses for IDPs in northern Uganda since the beginning of the year.
He added that resolving land conflicts was another big task to be handled by the district authorities, the Government, land committees and the cultural institutions in the region. Bodin noted that solving the wrangles would restore harmony among the people in villages.
He added that the UNHCR, together with AVSI, an Italian NGO operating in the region, would continue supporting the removal of camps and cleaning up the places that hosted the displaced persons.