KIRYANDONGO, UGANDA: Land victims in Kiryandongo district who have awaited resettlement for a very long period of time breathed a sigh of relief after government provided for 200 millions meant for their resettlement on ranch 11 in the 2023/2024 financial budget.
The victims who include those evicted from Karuma wildlife reserve, those evicted from the former Palestinian farm land, the landless Nubian community, veterans on ranch 11 and the Kibeka/Nyamakere forest reserve settlers have all been waiting for their permanent resettlement as promised by the president for a long period of time.
The first conflict started around 1911 when people who until then lived in today’s Murchison falls game park where resettled southwards upon its creation with people and institutions losing land. After gazetting the park people south of Bunyoro Game reserve. When Karuma wildlife reserve was created, they moved south in vast lands.
In 1968 an aerial survey of the disputed “Mawanda” boundary of the wildlife reserve was done and no topographical survey was done until recently when beacons were placed causing violent conflicts.
During Amin’s regime in 1976, another conflict occurred as a result of irregular expropriation of land during the establishment of the former Palestinian land. In this case, peoples’ assets and property were assessed and valued with hope of compensation or resettlement only to be brutally evicted. Majority of those evicted rushed back to the game reserve amidst unclear boundary.
After the fall of Amin, the original occupants of the Palestinian farm land regained occupancy as there was no activity taking place on the land and bearing in mind, they had not been compensated.
In 1986 when NRM government came to power, government was desirous of rejuvenating the land as a UPDF farm and in the process ignorantly evicted everybody that had occupied the land. The victims still moved to the game reserve.
In 1994 and 1998 evictions from the wildlife reserve were done in a bid to secure it amidst disputes. In 1999 a violent dispute occurred along the reserve boundary culminating into a brutal eviction that led to loss of life and property.
Masindi district council conducted a probe into these evictions in 2000, a report was produced and submitted to the ministry of Lands.
The Masindi probe report was considered by cabinet and a decision was made to resettle these people together with the Nubians on ranch 11.
This was followed by the launch of the resettlement committee by Hon Baguma Isoke pending the land fund.
In 2003 the conflict was again resurrected with the leasing of the former UPDF farm land to Mukwano group of companies. In 2006, the president requested the minister in charge of the presidency to handle the Nubian community which did not happen.
For all this long, victims have made various attempts to have government resettle them but several pledges by government had never come to pass.
The news of budgeting for the resettlement fund amounting to 200 millions have caused a sigh of relief to the victims who hope that they will finally get resettled soon.
Hon Karubanga Jacob the MP for Kibanda South was grateful upon the inclusion of the funds in the FY 2023/2024 budget. He thanked all those who stood firm in the matter.
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