GULU- About 200 people who were evicted from the disputed Apaa land in Mungula Parish, Adjumani District have camped at the offices of United Nations High Commission for Human Rights officers in Gulu Municipality to protest the ongoing eviction of people from the area by security forces.
The residents who stormed the UN offices on Wednesday alleged that their right to own land is being violated.
The residents say their houses and property as well as food crops have been destroyed.
Amuru District and Adjumani district leaders as well as residents claim to own the 40-squre kilometre Apaa land.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and the National Forestry Authority (NFA) also claim joint ownership of the land which is a protected wildlife game and forest reserve.
Early this year, officials from NFA and UWA backed by the army, begun forceful eviction of some 15,000 people from the contested land in Zoka Central Forest Reserve and East Madi Game Reserve.
The Local Council I chairperson of Acholi Ber Village, Mr Silvesto Adoki who led the locals, said the afflicted families are in desperate need of assistance from the UN agency.
“Since 2011, government agencies have been violently evicting people from their homes in Apaa. Our people have been killed and maimed,” he said. “Our homes are burned and our property destroyed and looted by the very forces that should protect us as Uganda citizens.”
Mr Adoki said their decision to camp at the UN offices is to push the aid agency to engage the government of Uganda and ensure that their property is saved.
The Amuru District chairman, Mr Michael Lakony said since the government has failed to help the people of Apaa, it’s prudent that the UN comes out to protect Ugandans from the ongoing brutality.
The protesters have also delivered a letter to Prince Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Uganda, highlighting their predicament.
Officials at the UN Human Rights Offices in Gulu refused to speak to journalists.
The protest comes just a week after President Yoweri Museveni failed to visit the disputed area in a bid to solve tensions between the people of Amuru and Adjumani districts.
The dispute over the Apaa land started 2015, after government demarcated parts of Paboo Sub-county in Amuru District.
In October last year, the government handed over the demarcated Apaa land to Adjumani District, sparking bitter protest from residents and leaders of Amuru District.