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MPs want Kyangwali evictees resettled in Bugoma forest

Legislators from Kikuube district are calling on the government to urgently resettle over 1,000 individuals who were forcibly evicted from their ancestral land in Kyangwali sub-county within the Bugoma forest reserve.

KIKUUBE, UGANDA: Legislators from Kikuube district are calling on the government to urgently resettle over 1,000 individuals who were forcibly evicted from their ancestral land in Kyangwali sub-county within the Bugoma forest reserve.

The affected group consists of men, women, and children who were forcefully removed from their homes in various villages including Bukinda A and B, Bukinda 2, Kavule, Bwizibwera A and B, Kyeya A and B, Nyaruhanga, Kabirizi, Nyamigisa A and B, and Katoma, all in Kasonga parish, Kyangwali sub-county.

The eviction dispute arose between the residents and the Kyangwali refugee settlement, centered around the ownership of a 36 square kilometer piece of land. The eviction took place in September 2013, when officials from the Office of the Prime Minister, accompanied by the police and the UPDF, displaced over 60,000 people from the contested land.

Since then, the evictees have been living in dire conditions in camps in Kyeya village, Kyangwali sub-county, awaiting government action.

In 2016 and 2018, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni issued directives to resettle the evicted residents on their ancestral land. Unfortunately, these directives are yet to be implemented, leaving the affected individuals in a state of uncertainty.

Last month, the landlord of the area where the evictees sought refuge issued a one-month ultimatum for them to vacate the land to pave the way for development.

He started depositing construction materials on the site, compelling the evictees to comply and seek temporary shelter in the residences of Florence Natumanya, the Kikuube Woman MP, and Francis Kazini, the Buhaguzi Member of Parliament.

The two legislators expressed their concern about the overwhelming number of evictees seeking refuge in their homes, emphasizing that they lack the capacity to accommodate and provide for them adequately.

Natumanya suggested that a portion of the Bugoma forest reserve should be allocated to resettle the evictees, enabling them to start afresh. She questioned why Ugandans should suffer in their own country while refugees from other nations are provided with assistance.

Francis Kazini, the Buhaguzi county member of parliament, also highlighted the need for the government to find a lasting solution for the evictees, noting that there is available space within the Bugoma forest reserve where they could be resettled.

The evictees themselves expressed their frustration with the government’s lack of response to their pleas for resettlement on their ancestral land. They called for urgent action to expedite their return.

Nestory Tumwesigye, the Kyangwali Sub-county LC V councilor, lamented the plight of the evictees who have spent over a year in harsh conditions without any assistance.

In January, during the commissioning of the first oil drilling rigs in the Kingfisher area of Kikuube, President Yoweri Museveni directed the Kikuube Resident District Commissioner to collaborate closely with his office to ensure the evictees are returned to their land.

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