Warning: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /usr/www/users/urnnet/a/story.php on line 43 Bamba-Babwisi Communities Drag Gov't to Court Over Semuliki National Park Land :: Uganda Radionetwork
Members of the Bamba-Babwisi tribes in Bundibugyo District have dragged the government to court over
compensation of their ancestral land from which they were evicted. The land in
question was part of Matongo Forest-present-day Semuliki National Park.
Bamba-Babwisi people occupied about 125 square kilometres of land covering
areas near the Saara stream to River Semuliki through River Lamia to the
borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Some of them settled in
areas within Bwamba county within Bundibugyo district.
They were first evicted in 1920 by the colonial government following an
outbreak of sleeping sickness in the area. The purpose was to mainly safeguard
the population against the outbreak of the epidemic. The land was years later
gazetted as a forest reserve.
A second eviction occurred in 1983 by the government of Uganda, then led by Dr.
Apollo Milton Obote. As a result, some of the Bamba-Babwisi people settled in
the DRC, areas around Tokwe Sub-county, and parts of Tooro, while others have gone
to Hoima and Kasese district among others.
More than 3,000 households have now sued Uganda Wildlife Authority-UWA and Attorney
General demanding to be compensated or their land be returned to them.
MLLRFG, Cornelius Bakecura, on Saturday said that the displaced families have
since grown in numbers and that they are living as squatters on the land that
was given to them by friends when they were evicted.
He adds that
the communities that have been hosting them are threatening to evict them because
of the scarcity of land. Bakecura says that they have petitioned the government
since 2010 but have not received any response.
families are longer having land to grow food yet we originally had a place we
called home, so our demand is that government gets us land elsewhere to be
resettled,” Bakecura said.
According to records, Fort Portal High Court has set September 30, as the date
when the case will be heard.
The Bwamba County
Member of Parliament Richard Gafabusa says that for a long time the affected
persons have asked the government to either de-gazette the park or let them resettle
on their ancestral land, in vain.
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Ngilesi, aged 98 years, one of the Matongo land claimants, says the remains of his
relatives remain in Semuliki National park.
“If they can’t allow us to go back to our ancestral land let them allow
us to go back and exhume remains of our relatives and get us where to rebury
them”, Ngilesi said
Hangi, the Public Relations Officer, UWA, said he cannot comment on the matter
that has already been taken to court.
claiming land include the; Bahanda, Bahombi, Babomboli, Batogho, and
The others are the Bandikiteganwa, Bandikulya, Babukulu, Mandimagwara (Babandi
sub-clans) and Bandimugumo, a sub-clan of Banyangule.
In 2020, the
group petitioned Parliament seeking compensation, relocation to their ancestral
land in parts of the current national park, or relocation to a place where they
can live. They argued that the eviction that led to their displacement
contradicts international and national laws that govern the people in their
rights and freedom of resettlement and belonging.