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4 Nov 2016

Haggai Matsiko, Oil in Uganda

Uganda: Some locals evicted for construction of oil waste treatment plant die of starvation in crowded camp, says columnist

"Bodies pile up as Rwamutonga evictees await Court ruling"

At least 27 people have died from diseases and starvation two years after being violently evicted from a disputed chunk of land in Rwamutonga, Hoima District. Over 250 families were evicted in August 2014 after the ‘owner’ of the land, Joshua Tibangwa, leased it to an American-based waste management firm, McAlester, to set up an oil waste treatment plant. The transaction collapsed but the locals have never regained their land and they have been living in a make-shift camp ever since with little food, medicine and other basic needs.

Now, according to some of the residents in the camp, the body count is increasing by the week as the grueling living conditions and starvation take their toll on the evictees. “About 20 children and seven old people have died because of diseases and starvation,” says Latim Alex as he points at nine graves in the centre of the camp...Another victim, 55-year old Justina Fambe, told Oil in Uganda that her husband had succumbed to injuries he sustained during the brutal August 2014 eviction leaving her to fend for their seven children. She blames oil for her grief. “All this suffering is because of the discovery of oil,” she said. “If oil hadn’t been discovered, that company wouldn’t have come to set up a [waste treatment] plant.”...

The evictees are now anxiously awaiting the outcome of Court that will sit on 8th December 2016 to decide their fate. In October last year, the Masindi High Court ruled that the eviction was illegal but fell short of restoring the evictees to the land...The evictees are hopeful that the upcoming judgement can halt their suffering and return them to their land. “That is the only hope we have,” says Atichi Nelson, their leader.