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Over 500 families left homeless as closure of illegal landing sites resumes

Kikuube, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | More than 500 families in Kikuube district are sleeping out in the cold following their eviction from Lake Albert shores. The families are affected by the second phase of the closure of illegal landing sites by Uganda People’s Defense Forces-UPDF, which kicked off on Monday.

The families were evicted from Senjojo and Songarao landing sites in Kyangwali and Kabwoya sub counties respectively. They were only given three hours by the army to vacate their homes. The affected residents have since pitched camp under trees and churches without any help.

Ali Udota, a resident of Senjojo landing site says soldiers raided his home on Tuesday and ordered him to vacate. According to Udota, he resisted the eviction orders prompting the soldiers to demolish his house. He has now pitched camp under a tree at the neighboring Bugoma landing site.

Vicky Muber, a resident of Songarao landing site says the situation is unbearable for her family of four children. Muber says she fled her home after the soldiers threatened to torch her house.

John Opoka, also a resident of Senjojo landing site questions why soldiers are using excessive force to evict them.

Vincent Alpher Opio, the Kabwoya sub county LC 5 councilor wonders why people who have settled for years and established permanent homes on the landing sites should be evicted from their homes like dogs without being given an alternative place to go to.

Richard Tabaro, the Kikuube Resident District Commissioner-RDC down plays the allegations of brutality leveled against the soldiers enforcing the closure of illegal landing sites. He says the affected residents were given sufficient time to relocate to gazetted landing sites in vain.

In May, government announced plans to close more than 200 illegal landing sites spread in Hoima, Buliisa and Kikuube district for allegedly facilitating the illegal movement of people to and from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Government also noted that some of the landing sites are inaccessible by land which gives Congolese nationals chance to sneak in and out as they wish thereby exposing Ugandans to danger. The first phase of the closure of the illegal landing sites kicked off on May 14, 2020.

A total of 61 landing sites were closed in a joint operation involving UPDF and Uganda Police Force. Lake Albert employs approximately 56,000 fishermen who harvest more than 100,000 tons of fish per year. Overall, fishing supports the livelihood of more than 1.6 million people in Uganda.

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