24 May 2005

Uganda: MPs Plead for Forest Encroachers

Kampala — MPs from areas affected by the forest reserve evictions have asked the Government to compensate and resettle victims.

The legislators condemned the methods employed by the National Forest Authority (NFA), saying the exercise was brutal and inhuman.

They said some victims had stayed in the areas for a very long time and have nowhere to go.

The coordinator of the forum for the affected MPs, Mulindwa Birimumaaso, last week said although the Government was right in demarcating reserve boundaries, there was need for an alternative for the people who have inhabited the areas.

"The Government should compensate the victims for loss of their crops, property and resettle them in new areas," Birimumaaso (above) said.

President Yoweri Museveni on May 18 ordered the Ministry of Lands, Water and Environment to stop further evictions of people from forest reserves until a study by a technical team is released.

Museveni said some of the reserves were enkoola (wilderness for grazing).

The team will study the economic, ecological and biodiversity potential of 560 forests.

Birimumaaso said there should be no fresh resettlement in the forest reserves as the MPs persuade the Government to compensate the victims.

Busia district Woman MP Rose Munyira said over 50 clans in Stamboko and Habuleke (Samia Bugwe west) had been displaced by NFA and denied land for cultivation.

Nakasongola MP Muruli Mukasa said the Government should set aside money to buy land and resettle the victims of land problems.

"People are not like trees in a forest they are willing to shift to other areas let government buy land in un gazetted areas and resettle them, this is a social problem," Muruli said. Over 30 MPs have registered in a forum to plead with the Government to resettle people affected by the evictions.

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