Four children starve to death in Hoima camp

Hoima- Four children have died of malaria and hunger in a makeshift camp in Hoima District.

The camp is home to more than 250 families that were evicted from a piece of land in Rwamutonga village, Bugambe Sub-county, on which an American company, Mcalister Energy Resources Ltd, seeks to set up an oil waste treatment plant.

According to the village chairman, Mr Alosius Onzima, the deaths were recorded in the past five months and many more could starve to death as the evictees wait on court to determine their fate. According to Mr Onzima, nearly half of the 700 children in the camp are severely malnourished. They lack food and medicine and their make-shift shelters are not strong enough to shield them from the heavy rain and biting cold at night.

Individuals and organisations such as Global Rights Alert, Action Aid, AFIEGO have donated food and clothing to the residents but the items are not sufficient, according Mr Onzima. Global Rights Alert executive director Winnie Ngabiirwe said in addition to giving handouts, the displaced people must be supported to access justice.

The families were allegedly violently evicted from a 485- hectare piece of land in August 2014 after the said owner of the land, Mr Joshua Tibagwa, leased it to the company. The residents have since turned to court in an attempt to repossess their land but the inhumane living conditions in the temporary camp are taking a toll on them.

Last Friday, the High Court in Masindi said it would on July 1 rule on the residents’ petition to be allowed to return to the land. McAlester Energy Resources Ltd operations director Leonard Durst told Daily Monitor that the company paid the land owner who was supposed to compensate the displaced persons. “We have taken the matter to court because we want him to refund our money. We have closed our undertakings in Rwamutonga and have relocated to Kenya where we want to set up an oil waste treatment plant. We cannot continue with investments in Uganda when the communities where we hope to work are not happy.”