Uganda: Govt Urged to Resettle Kyangwali Evictees

Kampala — Members of Parliament have called on government to resettle residents surrounding Kyangwali refugee settlement camp who were evicted from their ancestral land in 2013 following government's plan to expand the camp.

According to the Buhaguzi County MP, Muheirwe Mpamizo Daniel, residents of Bukinda and Katikara villages located in Kikuube district were in 2013 directed to vacate their land to pave way for the camp expansion from 50 to 70 square miles.

"The local community was told that government was relocating all the 28 villages of Bukinda and seven villages of Katikara areas in Kasonga Parish to only 16.8 square Kilometres of land which has since been the cause of conflict," said Muheirwe.

Following the plight of residents, Parliament's Committee on Presidential Affairs inquired into the evictions and found out that indeed residents were evicted within two days of the directive and violently.

"The Committee was informed that after two days, the community of Kasonga parish was violently evicted resulting into loss of lives, destruction of property, with some people seeking refuge at a camp at Kyangwali sub-county headquarters, while others moved to different parts of the country" said Jesca Ababiku, Chairperson of the Presidential Affairs Committee.

In its findings, the committee established that the effects of the 2013 eviction are glaring, making the communities neighboring Kyangwali to live in fear. This, legislators said was unbecoming for government to mistreat its citizens at the expense of refugees' welfare.

"It pains a lot to hear that government is busy settling refugees and violently evicting its own people, how can you find land for refugees and fail to get land for citizens?" asked Patrick Nsamba (NRM, Kassanda County).

Nsamba added that, "I have ever witnessed about 600 people in Kassanda being told to leave gold mines; their lives were shattered and you do not want to witness it."

MPs were further dismayed on hearing that only a small section of the evictees has been provided with alternative settlements leaving people from five villages stranded at a camp voluntarily provided by the local church leaders.

Kilak County MP, Gilbert Olanya asked the Office of the Prime Minister to reconsider its decision to expand the camp which he said was already occupying too much land. "The 50 square meters being talked about is too much land yet our population is growing, so allocating refugees all that land and leaving the residents just a small part is unfair" said Olanya.

The committee established that locals are aggrieved by contradicting survey reports from the office of the Prime Minister which indicate that Kyangwali which initially occupied 50 square meters, currently occupies 168 square meters. Locals say the additional acreage is an indication of unlawful land grabbing by government.

MPs implored government to conduct a fresh survey of the size of Kyangwali camp and return the remaining land after curving out 50 square meters, to the affected nationals.

More From: Independent (Kampala)

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