Kitgum district leaders and police have rescued 76 children from a suspected human trafficker in Abudere village, Pajimo Parish in Akwnag sub-county.
The suspect, Patrick Omony, a resident of Ayul village in Kitgum Town Council, is in police detention pending prosecution in the courts of law.
Neighbours of Sarafina Alal, the 80 year old caretaker say some of the children were even sleeping outside in the cold. The neighbours who refused to speak on record say they were aware of the existence of the children but were intimidated not to speak about their condition.
The children are aged between 8 and 15 years.
At first when questioned, Alal refused to explain who brought the children to her, only claiming that the children were handed over to her by the government. However, on further interrogation, she disclosed that the children were handed over to her by her grandson Patrick Omony who works with Active Blessing Uganda, a Non-Governmental Organisation registered in Mbale district.
The plight of the children came to be known on Monday when a listener from the village called Pol FM radio station in Kitgum and complained about the illegal detention of the children. Immediately the issue caught the attention of the leaders who alerted the police.
Kitgum district vice chairperson Titus Oryema together with the police went to Akwang sub-county to find out whether the information provided was true. They were shocked to find all the 76 children had been kept in the two huts since 2011.
Oryema says when they interrogated the woman further, they got some photos of two whites whom they suspect could be behind the trafficking. Oryema says as the head of the government business and head of all the NGOs operating in the district, he has never registered any NGO in that name. The district vice chairperson says they regard Omony as a child trafficker. He is currently at Kitgum police station.
Oryema chairperson says those with parents will be handed back to their parents and the district will decide where to keep the ones without parents.
Kitgum district police commander Nasur Oringa says they have launched immediate investigations into the matter. He says they will produce Omony to court once investigations are complete. Oringa however blames the local leaders and parents for surrendering these children to the suspected traffickers. He has warned parents to be vigilant in tracing those who claim to provide help to their children.
The full identities of the two white ladies whose photographs were found at the house could not be immediately ascertained. we only managed to get only single names of Kerin and Missi, Their mobile phone numbers 0782660368 and 0772469635 could not go through. The third person connected to the incident is Christine Buyule, the coordinator of the organization. However, when redpepper Online tried to call the number of Christine Buyule, it was not available on the MTN network.
This is not the first time children are being trafficked from Kitgum. In 2010, over 60 children reportedly trafficked from Kitgum and Pader were rescued from Nakasongola, where they were allegedly taken for education that never materialized.