“Multinational companies have taken advantage of the COVID-19 Lock Down to continue with impugned violations rendering many homeless, hopeless and starving” ~ statement submitted by lawyers to a Ugandan high court.
Despite a Ugandan government prohibition on land transactions during COVID-19 lockdown, illegal land evictions and concessions in community territories accelerated. Now the lockdown is gradually being lifted, communities continue to report cases.
Evicted when the world can least afford it
While the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development of Uganda acted to protect communities by calling for a total halt on evictions and transactions from contested land during the COVID-19 lockdown this prohibition was not respected and evictions continued. The lockdown and travel restrictions prevent civil society organizations from being able to accompany communities during negotiations. Perpetrators have taken advantage of this situation to move forward with violent evictions. This represents a significant threat when communities, and the world, can least afford it.
Secure land rights more urgent than ever
Uganda’s Indigenous Peoples and local communities have cared for their lands for generations, but a lack of secure land rights leaves many of them vulnerable to land grabbing by government and the private sector. When communities lose their homes to plantation agriculture, oil and gas, or mining, they also lose their livelihoods, food security, and identities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated threats to communities around the world: land grabbing and human rights abuses compounding the imminent public health risk and well-documented knock-on effects of food insecurity and extreme poverty.
Respecting community #landrightsnow is more urgent than ever. The world’s Indigenous Peoples and local communities play a key role protecting forests and biodiversity which scientists confirm is key to prevent future outbreaks of infectious disease.
Will you stand with communities and join us? We are calling on the Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development to ensure its prohibition on evictions is respected, and that those who violated it are brought to justice. We are also calling on the government and other stakeholders to immediately end illegal land grabbing!