Assessment of the impact of refugee land rights on their relationship with host communities in Uganda: A case study of Kyangwali Refugee Settlement (2000 – 2017)
Kateregga, Badru Kaggwa
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This study aimed at assessing the impact of refugee land rights on their relationship with host communities in Uganda, focusing on Kyangwali refugee settlement in Hoima district. The study identified factors giving rise to conflicts among host communities and refugees in their enjoyment of land rights. Identified from a human rights point of view, the policy gaps in the legal and institutional frameworks used to regulate land rights for both refugees and host communities and also identified alternative key policy areas, strategies and initiatives to enhance the relationship among both communities due to limited resources. The study employed a case study design using both quantitative and qualitative methods which included interview schedules (Administered among 50 respondents) and in-depth interviews (administered among 5 key informants) to gather information. The findings indicated that the factors giving rise to conflicts among host communities and refugees in their enjoyment of land rights included; discrimination (nationals and refugees continue to be treated unequally), use of force in evicting nationals to accommodate refugees, bureaucracy (local leaders are not allowed to access the refugee camps before seeking permission from UNHCR, OPM‟s office), ambiguity in the demarcation of land boundaries and competition over scarce resources between refugees and nationals. Despite, the international, national legal and institutional human rights frameworks having played a significant role in enhancing land rights for both refugees and hosts, there are still noticeable gaps in their implementation. For instance, despite refugees being allocated a piece of land for the case of Uganda for their self-sustenance, which is in line with Article13 of the 1951 refugee convention, the convention itself does not provide for remedies to address land conflicts between the refugees and the host communities as an attempt to promote their coexistence. There is a noticeable inconsistence in the national legal frameworks concerning land management in Uganda. For instance, there is a contradiction in Article237 in sub-article (1) and (2) (a) (c) of the 1995 constitution as well as in section 29(1) (e)(i)(ii) of the Uganda refugee Act,2006 where refugees can own land, lease and sub-lease. The study concluded that in order to have a long lasting solution to land conflicts between the refugees and nationals, both international and national legal frameworks need to be in harmony and a comprehensive intervention plan has to be put in place to enhance the full realization of the land rights for both communities. For instance, international relief agencies have to consider initiating projects for both the refugees and the nationals in order to prevent the conflicts between them since also Uganda included refugees in its National Development Plan thus enhancing coexistence. Based on the study findings, the research puts forward the following recommendations; That eviction of host communities from their land to cater for refugee settlement needs to be planned properly to avoid conflicts. The refugees need to be repatriated once their countries regain peace due to Uganda‟s demographic trends. There is also a need for transformative investments that will address the pressing needs of both refugees and host communities.
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