OPM Institutes Committee To Resettle Evicted Kyangwali Residents

2748 Views Hoima, Uganda

In short
Hoima Resident District Commissioner, Isaac Kawooya, the chairperson of the newly constituted committee, says their work is to implement the recommendation from the General Oketa committee report.

The Office of the Prime Minister has instituted a committee to verify and pave way for the resettlement of those evicted from Kyangwali Refugee Settlement land in Hoima district. In February 2016, the Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda promised to set up a technical committee to pave way for resettlement of the evicted people when he visited Kyangwali to assess the situation on ground.



Rugunda's visit came shortly after his predecessor and then Presidential candidate, Amama Mbabazi visited the camp and pledged to resettle the residents once voted into office. The affected people were evicted from Kasonga parish in the refugee settlement land in 2013 to create space for the resettlement refugees fleeing fighting in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. About 30,000 residents had their houses demolished and crop gardens destroyed during the eviction. 



The group camped at Kyangwali Sub county headquarters and petitioned the Prime Minister complaining that they had nowhere to go. They claimed to have legally acquired the refugee settlement land. The evictees stayed at the sub county headquarters until 2014 when the Office of the Prime Minister instituted a verification committee headed by Major General Julius Oketa, the Emergency Relief Coordinator.



In its March 2014 report, the committee recommended that some of the affected persons be resettled after verification and authentication of their claims to have legally acquired land in the area. The residents were then forced away from their temporary camp and transported to areas in Kibaale, Kyenjojo and Kabarole districts although some of them returned. 



Hoima Resident District Commissioner, Isaac Kawooya, the chairperson of the newly constituted committee, says their work is to implement the recommendation from the General Oketa committee report. The committee was launched by the Prime Minister on July 1 and it officially started work on Monday. The Committee among others includes officials from the Office of the Prime Minister, Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Ministry of Lands, Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom, Hoima District Local Government and a representative of the affected people.


The committee members are currently in Kyangwali to verify the affected people to determine who deserves to be resettled by government or not and take details of their family sizes, the land they occupied and how they got it. The committee will later advise government on how those recommended for settlement can be resettled.


Kawooya says the exercise will help in weeding out masqueraders who have since thronged the area from as far as Rugashari in the neighboring Kibaale district after learning that government was planning to resettle the affected persons. The committee is expected to wind up work in three months. 



The Prime Minister in his statement, signed by Disaster Preparedness Minister Engineer Hillary Oneck, has urged the committee to handle the matter with utmost objectivity and transparency in total disregard of the local politics of the area. But some Kyangwali leaders have slammed the exercise for sidelining them. 




Rwemera Mazirane, the Kyangwali Sub county LC 3 Chairman wonders how the exercise will address his people's concerns when key leaders like him are left out. In its findings, the General Oketa report implicated some Kyangwali Sub county leaders of aiding illegal land acquisition in the refugee settlement area.