29 March 2005

Uganda: Evicted Forest Encroachers in Misery

Mayuge — Hundreds of people who were recently evicted from South Busoga Forest Reserve are now living in misery.

Their belongings were confiscated and crops destroyed during the forceful exercise by the National Forestry Authority that started last month.

The residents who are now living in the open and in makeshift huts had lived in the Forest for many years until the recent eviction.

The peasants who have been engaged in felling trees for agriculture claim the land belongs to them and blame the forest authority for interfering with their lives.

The State Minister for Environment, Lt. Gen. Jeje Odongo, recently stopped the violent evictions and destruction of people's property.

He said the forestry authority make clear forest reserve demarcations.

The minister who was speaking on one of the area based FM radio stations, said forests are preserved for people and therefore a clear participation of all stakeholders in the preservation of the forest reserve is very vital.

The district Chairperson, Ms Joyce Nalongo Sajjabi, decried the violent destruction of people's property and appealed for restoration of order by those who caused the unrest.

She said a more orderly method of getting the encroachers out of the forest should have been used.

She said today people live in hiding within the forest and are exposed to wild animals.

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