Global Policy Forum

Uganda Threatens to Expel Oxfam and NGOs over Land-Grabbing Claims

Picture Credit:
The Ugandan government has told a group of 60 NGOs (local and international) to formally apologize for “inciting violence” over alleged land grabs and for “harming the name” of the President. Uganda’s Internal Affairs Minister Hilary Onex has also threatened to deregister Oxfam and the Uganda Land Alliance for allegations made by a 2011 Oxfam report, which stated that over 20,000 people had been evicted in the Mubende and Kiboga districts to make way for the UK-registered New Forests Company.

By John Vidal


May 10, 2012

The Ugandan government has told Oxfam and a group of 60 local and international NGOs working on food and land reform to formally apologise for "inciting violence" over alleged land-grabbing or face being thrown out of the country.

In the clearest signal yet that allegations of government involvement in the allocation of land to large commercial enterprises are embarrassing President Yoweri Museveni and government elites, Oxfam and the Uganda Land Alliance (ULA) were called this week to the home affairs ministry and threatened with deregistration by the internal affairs minister Hilary Onek.

Criticism of the two NGOs centres on allegations made last September by Oxfam that more than 20,000 people had been evicted from a government-owned forest in Mubende and Kiboga districts to make way for a British forestry company. Residents told Oxfam that Ugandan security forces enforced the evictions, setting fire to homes and crops and in some cases beating and imprisoning people.

"[This] has … generated unnecessary malicious attacks against the person of the president and brings the presidency into disrepute in a manner that is inconsistent with national laws," the ministry's national NGO board said.

"We were asked to make a public apology to the people of Uganda and the president for harming his name, and [told] that if we don't we will be deregistered", said the ULA director Esther Obaikol.

"We do not see any need to apologise because there are issues on the ground that we think need urgent attention," said a spokesman for the ULA. "People have lived on this land for quite some time and have now been chased away."

Land issues are highly sensitive in Uganda, where tens of thousands of people have been evicted from farmland in the past 10 years to make way for international oil, biofuel, forestry, gold, sugar, coffee and gold mining companies.

An Oxfam spokesperson said: "Last September, Oxfam published a report which highlighted the concerns of communities affected by the operations of the New Forests Company in Mubende and Kiboga districts, Uganda. These cases are now in a mediation process facilitated by the office of the compliance adviser/ombudsman of the World Bank's international finance corporation.

"Oxfam is fully committed to this mediation process and we hope that it will deliver a successful resolution of the issues under dispute. Because the mediation process is under way, we cannot offer any comment about the disputes at this time."


FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.