Uganda: IDPs sue wildlife authority over crop, property damage
|Publisher||Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)|
|Publication Date||29 December 2008|
|Cite as||Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Uganda: IDPs sue wildlife authority over crop, property damage, 29 December 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4959e415c.html [accessed 23 September 2014]|
AMURU, 29 December 2008 (IRIN) - Hundreds of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in northern Uganda have sued the country's wildlife authority, demanding 2.8 billion shillings (US$1.4m) for damage to their crops and other property by elephants and buffaloes straying out of a national park in the region.
"We, the affected communities from the villages of Alero, Koch-Goma and Amuru have decided to seek compensation through the courts," Bernard Oryema from Koch-Goma, one of the claimants, told IRIN.
The 1,008 claimants from Alero, Koch-Goma and Amuru sub-counties are demanding special damages against the Uganda Wild Life Authority for violation of their right to life, right to property and livelihoods by the marauding beasts.
"We lost a lot over the course of the two-decade LRA [Lord's Resistance Army] conflict and now our properties are being destroyed by wild animals - animals from a national park that government should have controlled not to stray into villages where IDPs are returning," Oryema said. "We are scared because in the coming year, IDPs resettling in these affected areas will experience famine because all our crops have been eaten up by the animals."
The wild animals have destroyed bananas, maize, beans, millet, potatoes, rice, sesame, groundnuts sorghum and yams that the IDPs had planted.
In November, one of the returning IDPs set ablaze his hut as he tried to scare away herds of elephants that were approaching his home in Koch-Goma village.
Amuru local leader Gilbert Olanya told IRIN local people had lost faith in the Uganda Wild Life Authority for failing to control wild animals straying out of the game park.
"The law does not allow killing of wild animals so they want the court to help them on this issue", he added.
Edward Asalu, the Murchison Falls National Park senior conservation officer, said the authority had not received any notification of the IDP suit.
"We are doing our best to control these animals, a number of them have been driven back to the national park, he said.
The IDPs have sought the help of a legal firm based in Kampala which has already served notice on the attorney-general, copied to the Uganda Wildlife Authority, giving the government and the wildlife body 60 days to respond. The notice was made available to IRIN by IDP representatives.