A combined force of UPDF soldiers and police has been deployed at Rwamanja refugee settlement Camp as the government prepares to evict the more than 10,000 residents.
A combined force of UPDF soldiers and police has been deployed at Rwamanja refugee settlement Camp as the government prepares to evict the more than 10,000 residents. Rwamanja refugee camp that is estimated to be about 40 square miles is located in Nkoma Sub County in Kamwenge District. Last month, the ministry of Disaster Preparedness and Refugees set March 19th as the deadline for the encroachers to vacate the camp to give room to Congolese refugees to occupy the camp.
The Congolese refugees fled their country following the disputed parliamentary and presidential elections. Last week, Steven Malinga, the Minister for Disaster Preparedness and Refugees said government had decided to open Rwamwanja refugee settlement because settlements such as Nakivale, Oruchinga, Kyaka II, Kiryandongo and Kyangwali are full to capacity.
Wilson Kwanya, Western Region Police Commander Western says that the UPDF soldiers who have been deployed to beef up security are from Bundibugyo, Kabarole, Ibanda and Kasese districts. Kwanya says that the security officers were deployed two days ago after they got reports that the occupants were planning to resist eviction and cause violence.
He also says that security doesn’t want to be caught unaware as it happened two weeks ago when the camp commandant Aliphonse Ntenziyaremye was allegedly killed by the occupants. Ntenziyaremye and officials from the Office of the Prime Minister had gone to assess the conditions of the camp, in preparation for settling the Congolese refugees, when the occupants allegedly attacked him.
The planned eviction of the occupants has met resistance from local leaders who have accused government of giving priority to the refugees and ignoring its citizens. When contacted for a comment, Frank Tumuwebaze, KIbaale County MP said that he and Kamwenge district leaders are planning to meet the Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi and Steven Malinga, the Minister of Disaster Management before next week, to discuss the matter.
In a telephone interview, Charles Bafaki, the senior resettlement officer in the Office of the Prime Minister, said that the occupants will be resettled in another place. He however refused to reveal the location. Conflict over ownership of Rwamwanja camp has raged on for more than a decade now with the residents claiming ownership of the land.
In 1964, Sir George Kamurasi Rukidi III, the then Omukama of Tooro, temporarily allocated the land to the government to resettle Rwandese who were fleeing the civil war in their country. In 1994, the Rwandese returned to their country and the Kingdom encouraged its people to re-occupy the land. In the past, Tooro Kingdom has written several letters challenging the government to prove that the land belongs to the government.
rwamwanja refugee camp
minister for refugees and disaster prepardness
minister steven malinga