By Willy Chowoo
Opposite the building housing a number of offices including the Gulu Resident District commissioner’s office is a gate of a building with three doors clearly seen from outside. To an outsider it is like any building in the district. This building houses the famous media resource center in northern Uganda known as Northern Uganda Media Club (NUMEC). For over five years, NUMEC has provided free platform to opinion leaders, religious leaders, political leaders, and community members who have issues that they believe the public should be aware of.
As a result many groups of people have benefited from the services of the resource center. One such group is the people of Apaa village in Amuru district who were evicted from their land over land disputes between the communities and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), and inter-ethnic dispute between Madi and Acholi ethnic groups from Amuru and Adjumani districts. On the 11th July 2018 the displaced people of Apaa forcefully occupied UN Human Rights offices in Gulu.
According to Asuma Wilson the representative of the Group, once the displaced people of Apaa entered the UN Human Rights offices, they were barred from talking to the press from within the premises.
“When we reached the UN offices, we were not allowed to talk to the press because it is against their policy, so after realizing that there was a media centre (NUMEC) in Gulu, we decided to come here and they welcome us very well”, Wilson said.
Asuma says the several press briefings they held at NUMEC helped to publicize the situation of the people of Apaa to the people of Uganda and the world.
“Many people came to know about our problems because we would come here to talk to the press if there were issues that arose and it is because of this Centre that made us to receive support”.
Atenyo Agnes another representative says the press briefings they had at NUMEC helped them to get food stuff from the members of the public.
“We received support from Business community and members of the public such as beans, Posho, soap, salt, jerry cans, clothing and other cooking utensils because ours were burnt in the houses from Apaa, God should bless NUMEC abundantly”, She said.
Obwoya Julius a resident of Punu Dyang in Apaa who visited the resource center several times described the facility as a “healer of the problem” because they were able to be heard.
Speaking to Journalists at the Media resource center on Monday 13th August, 2018, Asuma said after several visits to different Embassies in Kampala, they got assurance that their issue shall be addressed.
The residents, who arrived at the UN compound on the 11th July, 2018 on Thursday 16th August 2018 returned to their respective villages after the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Oulanyah Jacob assured them that President Yoweri Museveni has called on the security Forces to restrain from evicting them from the disputed Apaa areas.
Northern Uganda Media Club (NUMEC) is an independent and non-partisan media organization formed by journalists and media professionals in northern Uganda.
NUMEC aims at integrating the critical role of media and communication into the strategic objectives of actors and stakeholders in the greater northern Uganda.
Critical to achieving our mandate is empowering local communities through adequate and reliable access to information on development, enhancing peace, justice, accountability and good governance.