Africa / Uganda – Increased land grabbing and forced displacement of peasants during the Covid-19 lockdown
Kampala (Agenzia Fides) – “The situation is getting worse as residents of entire regions are forcibly evicted from their lands. Forced evictions are a clear indication of violations of people’s rights,” according to a report by the Dennis Hurley Peace Institute (DHPI), a research organization sponsored by the Conference of Southern Bishops African (SACBC), on the acts of land seizure at the expense of the local population on the grounds of the Gulu Parish in Northern Uganda.
This phenomenon has been going on for several years. For example, a 2012 report by the NGO Oxfam denounced the deportation of tens of thousands of people from their lands, while cases of herbicide use to force farmers to abandon their lands were recorded.
The Covid-19 pandemic has worsened expectations in the past year. “Violations have escalated during the Covid-19 pandemic. The epidemic has given many the advantage of easy access to millions of hectares of land with the support of the country’s government and influential politicians,” says DHPI. This is because “the epidemic has been used as a smoke screen to force farmers to leave their lands. Soldiers have been deployed during the lockdown period imposed to stop the epidemic and forcing people to leave their homes by burning homes and arresting those who oppose them.”
The Dennis Hurley Peace Institute cites examples such as that of a former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander who was to expel an entire Catholic parish in the village of Aba. The area became a hunting ground.
“Land grabbing leads to environmental degradation,” says DHPI. A large number of crete trees have been felled. One of the areas where trees were destroyed is the Adilang sub-county, where about 500 people from different parts of the country now reside.
The lack of international awareness about forced relocations and environmental destruction during the Covid-19 lockdown has exacerbated the problem. The wealthy elites violate the rights of the poor by taking their land. The government is doing nothing about it. Instead, it promotes these activities. The Dennis Hurley Institute for Peace concludes that the state of land and environmental degradation in Uganda remain hidden.
(LM) (Agenzia Fides 5/20/2021)