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5 Feb 2024

Just Finance International

Uganda: Soldiers reportedly burn fishing boats and arrest villagers near CNOOC's Kingfisher oil operations, intensifying disputes over project impacts

"China’s largest investor in Uganda presides over increased military persecution and continued human rights violations" 5 February 2024

On the evening of January 16, 2024, soldiers from the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) burned 15 fishing boats, fishing nets, and other important instruments vital to the livelihoods of local villagers in Uganda’s Kingfisher Development Area, where China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) has long been developing oil and gas operations...

This unprecedented act of large-scale destruction ripped hundreds of villagers from their primary means of livelihood overnight, and signals an alarming escalation in the ongoing military deployment around the Kingfisher installations...

Following the burning of fishing boats, around 19 villagers were arrested according to local testimonies, some of them for more than 48 hours beyond the legally mandated period...

Development on the Kingfisher oil fields has been marred by numerous grievances since inception. According to the Civil Society Coalition for Sustainable Development's estimates, over 700 people have been forcefully displaced from their land, with many of them remaining landless to this day due to inadequate compensation. The project has also caused significant environmental harm including the heavy pollution of water sources used by communities for their households and livestock.

Around the shores of Lake Albert, project-associated military deployments have created an environment of intimidation and threats...