Landlords Sue Government over IDP Camps

1920 Views Lira, Uganda

In short
The former landlords acting under their umbrella; Lango Camp Host Association, have filed a suit before Lira High Court seeking compensation from government for the degradation caused on their land during the Lords Resistance Army -LRA insurgency.

More than 5,000 families that hosted former Internally Displaced Peoples (IDP) camps on their land in Lango sub region have dragged government to court demanding for compensation.

The former landlords acting under their umbrella; Lango Camp Host Association, have filed a suit before Lira High Court seeking compensation from government for the degradation caused on their land during the Lord's Resistance Army -LRA  insurgency.

In their application, filed through lawyer Adam Makmot Kibwanga, the former landlords claim that between October 2000 and 2006, government erected several IDP camps in which millions of those who fled LRA atrocities were hosted on their land without their consent.

They add that government never gave them opportunity to decide whether or not to accommodate displaced persons on their land but that they reached a bilateral agreement with government to the effect that they would be compensated later.

Jackson Oneka, the Association chairperson says their land was rendered useless, suffered degradation and lost fertility as a result of the activities of the former internally displaced persons. He however adds that despite the effects, the hosts have since been forgotten.

He says that government has lately compensated some of those who suffered the brunt of the LRA war in northern Uganda but has neglected them.

Joe Etti, the association coordinator says they want government to give them at least 5 million seedlings to rejuvenate soil fertility and mitigate other environmental impacts.

Cissy Mudhasi, the Deputy Registrar Lira High Court has set November 21 as date for the negotiation hearing of the case.  The office of the Attorney General has confirmed receiving details of the suit.

According to records from Invisible Children, an NGO that operated in Northern Uganda during the LRA insurgency there were a total of 474, 000 internally displaced people's camps in Lango sub regions. They were scattered in the districts of Lira and Apac.

Last year, President Museveni assured local leaders from Lango and Acholi sub regions that the government would compensate victims of the two-decade insurgency in the northern region.

He was meeting local leaders, including the district chairpersons and Resident District Commissioners from the two sub-regions at State House, Entebbe, on June 30.

However, the President told the delegation that not all the two million people affected by the LRA conflict will benefit from the compensation scheme, but only those that won the case against government in court.
 
Three groups - Lango War Claimants' Association, one led by Mr Moses Ocip, the former chairperson Central Division in Lira Municipality, and another led by Betty Akello, a farmer, sued and defeated government over compensation.

Ocip's group has already received part of the compensation, while the process of verifying the members of Lango War Claimants Association is underway.

Also still in court are the Acholi Debt War Claimants Association and the Lango War Claimants Association, which are demanding 1 trillion and 2.9 trillion Shillings respectively in compensation.

 

About the author

Denis Olaka
Denis Olaka is the URN bureau chief for Lira, in northern Uganda. Apac and Otuke fall under his docket. Olaka has been a URN staff member since 2011.

Olaka started his journalism career in 2000 as a news reporter, anchor, and then editor for Radio Lira in Lira district. He was subsequently an editor with Lira's Radio Wa in 2004 and Gulu district's Mega FM.

He was also a freelance writer for the Daily Monitor and Red Pepper newspapers.

Olaka's journalism focuses on politics, health, agriculture and education. He does a lot of crime reporting too.