Cattle rustling in Kitgum, northern Uganda, has become yet another obstacle to the smooth return of former internally displaced persons (IDPs), resettling their land after years of civil war waged by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).
"Locals in the area are uncertain of what might happen to them and their animals; they are unable to plant crops and work freely towards their resettlement," Mathew Akia, a local leader, told IRIN.
Up to 17,000 former IDPs from Agoro sub-county, 18,000 from Mucwini sub-county and 13,000 from Madi Opei sub-county have returned to their villages of origin, according to statistics compiled by the Kitgum district disaster management committee.
The cattle rustlers are suspected to be from the neighbouring Kotido district, which is inhabited mainly by the Karamoja, a marginalised pastoralist community known for cattle rustling.
Raids have been reported in Gerie, Orogo and Lutuko villages in Kitgum, with an incident on 25 April resulting in the death of a 33-year-old returnee, Francis Oryem, in Gerie.
"Oryem got out of his hut around 10pm to relieve himself but as he opened the door I heard two gunshots from the side of the hut and Oryem started screaming that he had been shot," Filbedo Luca, Oryem's uncle, said.
"We came out [armed\ with spears and bows and found Oryem lying on the ground with blood oozing out of his stomach..." More....