Investigation into the eviction of more than 20,000 Ugandans must ensure justice for affected people

By Ben Grossman-Cohen

In response to the announcement from the New Forests Company that they will carry out an investigation into the eviction of more than 20,000 Ugandans to make way for their plantations, Oxfam International’s Executive Director Jeremy Hobbs said:

"Oxfam welcomes the announcement by the British company The New Forests Company (NFC) to investigate the eviction of more than 20,000 people in Uganda to make way for its forestry plantations. The investigation must be carried out independently and transparently and its findings made public as soon as possible. These people lost their land and their homes and received no compensation.

“Oxfam is concerned that the New Forests Company continues to maintain that all the evictions were voluntary and peaceful, when the evidence and testimony of the people affected clearly shows otherwise. The company must wake up to the reality that something went terribly wrong in Uganda and that it has a responsibility to make amends. Only then can the men, women and children who are now struggling to survive get compensation and alternative land and begin to piece their lives back together.”

The company claims that audits by The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and International Finance Corporation (IFC) show that the evictions were voluntary and peaceful. However, Oxfam believes that both processes fell well short of internationally-accepted standards and did not cover both plantations under investigation. In addition the reports do not take account of the experiences of affected communities and do not substantiate their conclusions with hard evidence.

Oxfam’s research indicates that at least 22,500 people have lost their homes and land to make way for the British timber company. Many evictees told Oxfam how they were forcibly removed and have been left destitute, without enough food or money to send their children to school.

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