Three Ugandan top officials – Charles Bafaki who’s the principal settlement officer in the Office of the Prime Minister and Jolly Kebirungi, the camp commandant Kyangwali refugee settlement area in Kikuube district and Vianney Lutaaya from ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development are in the wrong business.
The trio is accused of forcing over 1000 Ugandans living in areas neighboring Kyangwali settlement camp to attain refugee status in order for them to reclaim or retain ownership of their land.
Birungi Asiimwe, one of the affected residents says the officers with the help of police and soldiers, tortured residents and forced them to sign up as refugees on their own land, after which they were issued with cards confirming them as refugees.
According to the residents, the issuance of the refugee cards to Ugandans started in November 2018.
This is around the same time that the Office of the Prime Minister announced a plan to expand the boundaries of the camp, which would provide more land for the resettlement of refugees.
Tumwesigye, a resident of Bukinda in Kyangwali sub-county explains that those
who declined to denounce their citizenship for refugee status were harassed and
had their land annexed to the resettlement land, which is reserved for
Each refugee in Uganda is entitled to a 50 by 50ft plot of land for cultivation and settlement, materials for construction of a shelter and daily food rations for a period of at least one year.
Although they have a right to work, do business, and freely move around the country, the refugees cannot own the land they cultivate, or the homes they live in, according to the terms of the 2006 Refugees Act. This makes the Ugandan nationals vulnerable to eviction if their refugee status elapses.
The residents now want the officers investigated by the State House Anti-corruption unit headed by Lt. Col. Edith Nakalema for allegedly turning them into refugees on their own land.
accused government of favoring refugees at the expense of Ugandans, adding
that: “Efforts to better the lives of refugees have rendered Ugandans landless
in their own country.”
The residents acted swiftly by handing over the exhibits to Lt. Col Nakalema to help her start up investigations against the two officers.
Early this month, a team of investigators led by Nakalema, stormed Kyangwali refugee settlement area to investigate the prevailing land conflict, she assured them of a concrete report after her investigations.
In 2013, at least 60,000 so-called “encroachers”, Ugandan nationals who settled on land earmarked for refugees, were under duress evicted from the Kyangwali refugee settlement in central-western Uganda to make way for new arrivals from DRC.
The families later sued the government, claiming to have lived with refugees since the 1960’s when the refugee resettlement was started.