13 June 2006

Uganda: Forest Encroachers Increase Hostility

Wakiso — THE National Forestry Authority has said encroachers have become more hostile than before killing and maiming staff.

The encroachers are resisting eviction from gazetted central forest reserves all over Uganda.

"As a result of the past elections, community hostility has been inflamed to a level where any decisive action now leads to mob action, resulting into grievous bodily harm," a NFA report released on Wednesday, said.

During the previous presidential campaigns, President Yoweri Museveni stopped NFA from evicting encroachers.

NFA has the mandate of managing gazetted central forest reserves in Uganda sustainably.

The report was presented at a law enforcement partnership workshop that hosted national police commanders at Ranch on the Lake Hotel, Lweza on Wednesday.

The report says the situation is getting worse in the reserve forests.

In Kibale district, about 8,000 new encroachers used elections to fuel illegal activities and occupied 13 central forest reserves, which had not been previously encroached.

The situation was worsened by tension caused by ethnic conflicts over land ownership in the region.

While in Busoga, one NFA staff was taken hostage beaten and cut with a panga.

"It had to take the intervention of the Inspector General of Police, Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura, to restore some sanity in the area,"the report reveals.

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