Nineteen years of war have taken their toll on thousands of people in northern Uganda. Children have lost their innocence to violence. Hundreds have been abducted and sexually abused. More than 1.5 million people have been displaced from their homes and put into camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs). With the signing of a peace truce recently, hope seems to increase. The government is encouraging people to return home. Yet, the question remains, after an absence of 20 years, is there still a home and land to return to?
The Ugandan government has announced a resettlement program for the IDPs but few are willing to return home. While security is currently the biggest problem, land troubles may escalate into a new conflict or a full-fledged war if not managed properly.
As IDPs return home, land is expected to be a major challenge. For many, it is likely the only economic resource left unscathed by the brutal war.
Ochula Opio, a resident of Layibi Village in Gulu, spoke about his concerns.
“There is nobody who would like any other fellow to be in his area so whoever will try to interfere or enter into ones land will cause a lot of chaos, where [it is] possible even death will occur. It is happening even right now and people have fought a lot about it,” he said.
There is concern that those who survived the 20-year war could face brutal fights regarding abandoned land. In the absence of land certificates, land titles, and officially surveyed land, it will be difficult for many people to identify where they once lived.
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