Minority tribes demand inclusion into national setup

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Minority tribes demand inclusion into national setup
The Ik community

JINJA | A group of the minority tribes have ramped up advocacy for a constitutional amendment seeking to be officially recognition as citizens of Uganda.

Members of the Ik ethnic minority tribes say they find difficulty to access essential government documents like land titles, national identification cards, passports coupled with hardship to access social services.

Uganda is home to a number of minority groups spread in different districts, some of these tribes are not legally recognised in the laws of the land

They are advocating for recognition through a constitutional amendment, since they can't access some government programs and important documents of the land like national IDs, passports and land tittles.

Daniel Lokolo, a member of the IK community in Kabong District, says they find challenges in land ownership, since they live in forests and the laws of Uganda grant all forests rights to National Forestry Authority hence many of them have been evicted by government agencies like Uganda wildlife Authority and NFA yet forests have been their ancestral land since their origin.

"For generations we have been staying in mountains and forests but during demarcations by government agencies, they categorise our land as gazetted areas hence we can't get lamd tittles on our land," he said.

He added their great grand parents lived in forests for security reasons because they would evade attacks from Karamojangs and Turkana.

Stephanie Adupa, from the Tepeth/Soo community and the coordinator of Karamoja indigenous minority group, predicted their extinction if government doesn't intervene.

"We the Soo of Mount Moroto we were evicted by government agencies and also the majority Karimojong also invaded our land hence we have nowhere to stay," she said.

Chris Lopeyok Karenga, a civil rights activist and a member of the Mening group in Karamoja says minority groups should be catered for in terms of representation at different levels of government, including Sub County, district to Parliament.

"We also need our voices to be heard but we have no representatives at all levels, hence we want government to consider it," he said

Paska Kerisha, from the Department of Peace and Justice in Moroto Catholic Diocese, says because minority groups are always isolated, they live in hard to reach areas like mountains and forests therefore, access to social services is still a challenge.

"For example, in Moroto, we have the Tepeth who live in the mountains, you find that their children face difficulties to access schools in lower areas, even medical services are inaccessible which has increased mortality rate of pregnant mothers and infant mortality in the communities," she said.

During a stakeholders meeting in Jinja, officials from National Planning Authority said they working on modalities to ensure all their demands are catered for.

Sylvia Ngeyi, the coordinator of African Peer Review Commission, said they held a study in 2018 and some of their findings indicated that they the indigenous minority communities are facing a number of historical challenges hence government is coming up with strategies to address their challenges

Emmanuel Katumba, the head of Commission African Peer Review Commission, revealed that their findings indicate that majority of the minority groups are missing out on government programmes but they're doing proper documentation and validation thereafter solutions shall be found.

He encourages the minority groups to embrace the forthcoming mass population and housing census where their details shall be captured accurately and they will be catered for in all spheres of life.

Notable among the marginalised tribes include Ik, Tepeth, Soo, Banyala, Batwa among others, whereas some are recognised in the constitution majority are not included.

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