Basongora Pastoralists Reinvade Queen Elizabeth National Park

1111 Views Kasese, Uganda
A group of Basongora pastoralist who were last month evicted from the Queen Elizabeth National Park has started to sneak back into the park in the areas of Karusandara sub-county, Wilson Okaali, the chairperson of the Basongora Group for Human Rights and Justice, says the pastoralists have returned the park, disappointed that promises made by a Cabinet committee for their resettlement were not honored. He says promises that the pastoralists would be given part of the Mubuku Army land and property at Ibuga Prison and Ibuga Refugee Resettlement have not been fulfilled. According to the decision of the Cabinet committee, the Basongora who were expelled from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2005 would be given 25,000 acres of land in the ancestral home of Bukangara and Rwehingo in Kasese. The land was to be shared with the pastoralists and cultivators from the Bakonzo tribe who settled on to the land when the Basongora fled civil insurgency in the 1990s. During a meeting with Defense Minister Crispus Kiyonga it was agreed that the pastoralists would be given 17,000 acres and the remaining 8,000 acres would stay in the hands of the Bakonzo cultivators. However Wilson Okaali says the Basongora and Bakonzo have failed to peacefully co-exist. He claims the Kasese district leadership has given a group of Bakonzo youth the go ahead to grab land at Ibuga Prison intended for the pastoralists. He says the pastoralists have no other choice but return to the national park. Lillian Nsubuga, spokesperson of the Uganda Wildlife Authority, says she has received news of the plan to reinvade the park but refuses to comment on the matter. Game park wardens in Karusandara say they have been told to be on the watch to prevent the pastoralists from re-entering the park.