Banyabindi Prepare to Sue Government for Displacement and Discrimination

1750 Views Kasese, Uganda
The Banyabindi community in Kasese district has finalized its preparations to sue government for failing to resettle them after more than 40 years of living in camps. Paul Agaba, Vice Chairperson of the Banyabindi Community, says evidence has been gathered against government and a suit will be filed soon. He says it is a disgrace that despite their four decades of displacement government has done nothing to resettle the Banyabindi. Giving the example of the Basongora pastoralists, who were last year resettled in the Kasese plains after several years in exile, Agaba said the neglect of the Banyabindi is inexplicable and a solution to the problem may only lie in the courts of law. According to historians, the Banyabindi migrated from the Bunyoro Kingdom to the Rwenzori region in the 1800s. Overtime, the Bakonzo community, who were cultivators, migrated from Congo expanding much faster and encroached on Banyabindi lands. The Banyabindi were pushed further towards the edges of the Queen Elizabeth National Park. During the Rwenzururu rebellion of the 1950s they were caught in the middle of the rebellion, leading to their displacement and the death of many. The Banyabindi leaders say subsequent regimes did not provide an enabling environment for them to settle back into their homes. Having lost all their land, they survive by renting cheap land for cultivation from absentee landlords. The Banyabindi are a minority group in the Rwenzoris, with a population of 20,000 scattered around Kabarole, Bushenyi and Kasese. They are congregated in five main camps in Kinyamaseke, Rukooki, Maliiba, Rwimi, Bunyaruguru and Muhokya. Agaba says evidence of discrimination of the Banyabindi by Government is apparent in the millions of dollars set aside to resettle the displaced people of northern Uganda and yet nothing is being done for his community. He also claims that Banyabindi are marginalized at local government level and are denied jogs unless they identify themselves as Bakonzo. A number of international and local civil society organizations are working with the Banyabindi to press for increased political and social recognition for the small tribe.