Evictees in Kikuube IDP camp living without food, as women and girls are raped and defiled

The evictees are now appealing to government to save them from the unbearable suffering in the camp

KIKUUBE-“We are living a miserable life in this camp. Where will our help come from?” Ester Turyahebwa, a mother to 8 children who stays at Kigyayo camp for the internally displaced people [IDP] in Kiziranfumbi Sub-county Kikuube district cried out during a recent meeting.

Turyahebwa is one of the 398 families who were evicted in 2014 from a contested land by Hoima Sugar Limited in 2014 to pave way for cane growing.

The evictees are now appealing to government to save them from the unbearable suffering in the camp, which they have endured for eight years now, as they face hunger and human rights abuses.

Women facing human rights abuses

According to Turyahebwa, women living in the camp have had their human rights violated, adding that women have been abandoned with children by their husbands, adding they have no land for cultivation and sometimes depend on food donated by the nearby community.

She says the available water sources have been contaminated with molasses from the Hoima Sugar Limited factory. “This coupled with the lack of toilets in the camp leaves puts us at a high risk of contracting hygiene-related illnesses.”

Muhereza Tumukunde, 59, a mother to seven children, said they are living a miserable life in the camp where social services are non-existent.

She explained that her husband abandoned the family in the camp, adding that her children stay at home due to the lack of public schools in the area.

She said the bad situation in the camp has forced some of the young girls into early marriages with the hope that they will find a better life there while some boys are involved in drug abuse.

Ester Turyahebwa telling district officials of the misery they are facing in the camp (Photo by Peter Kugonza).

The evictees expressed their plight and suffering during a dialogue with Hoima Sugars Limited officials, and Kikuube district local government leaders. The dialogue was organised by National Association of Professional Environmentalists [NAPE] to find ways of helping the evictees.

Cases of rape and defilement

Edward Tumusime, the chairperson Muziranduru village said several cases of defilement and rape allegedly committed by Hoima Sugar Limited’s workers have been reported, though he said following them up, as it is hard to identify the culprits.

“Since January this year, I have registered three defilement cases and one rape case. But when we report to the police, they tell us to get the culprit but this is hard,” Tumusiime said.

He said the women and girls are waylaid in the nearby sugarcane plantations as they look for food [Okusaka]. Since most of the workers are strangers, the victims can’t easily identify them,” he said, urging authorities to protect the women and girls.

Florence Buga, 56, said her daughter-in-law was raped while on her way home through the sugarcane plantation by suspected sugarcane workers in 2021 but the case has failed to proceed to court due to lack of money peruse it.

“My daughter-in-law came back bleeding and weak and she told me that she had been raped. I went to the police but it has not helped me much because I failed to trace the culprits and decided to stop following it,” Buga told the leaders.

John Kyosimire 46 said his two underage daughters disappeared and he suspects that they were taken by Hoima Sugar workers. He said he reported the matter to police but was not helped to get his children and he thinks that his children decided to live the camp due to suffering in the camp.

“My two daughters disappeared a year ago. One came back last month with a child while another is still missing. When I tried to call the person who purportedly took her, he threatened to bring her back dead if I kept following him. I don’t know what to do,” said Kyosimire during a dialogue.

Residents during the meeting said they avoid the bad roads spoilt by the sugarcane molasses dumped by Hoima Sugar Limited, to go through cane plantations where women and girls become vulnerable to rape and defilement.

Steven Buryahika, the representative of the evictees, blamed government for abandoning them. He said the evictees have been surviving on relief aid from civil society organisations [CSOs], adding that CSOs have also helped the evictees to seek justice in court.

Leaders speak out

Dorothy Ajwang, the Kikuube district chief administrative officer said was shocked, saying the camp where the evictees are living is not fit for human settlement, promising that the district would get a way of helping the evictees with social amenities.

“We must have a leaders’ dialogue meeting with the proprietors of Hoima sugar limited to ensure that these issues are solved,” said Ajwang.

The district chairperson, Peter Banura blamed the abuses mated on evicted residents on corruption tendencies by some district leaders.

He alleged that Hoima Sugar workers listen to specific leaders in the district to whom he said they give bribes so that they keep mute on issues affecting the local communities.

“We are having a challenge that the Hoima sugar employers have become unruly because they only listen to a click of leaders and disrespect others. That’s why they failed to show up in this dialogue meeting and just sent their Public Relations Officer,” Banura said.

Joan Akiiza, from NAPE, said she was happy that the leaders were able to see for themselves the harsh conditions the evictees were going through, adding that the leaders’ promises to find a solution were encouraging.

Peter Bisoborwe, the resident district commissioner Kikuube district also expressed concern about the suffering of the people and promised to write to the relevant offices to intervene.

“Am going to write to my bosses in Kampala to engage Hoima Sugar Limited to see that we can have a mediation and get a way of settling these issues amicably,” he said.

Richard Basemera, the Assistant Public Relations Officer who represented Hoima Sugar Limited management promised to submit the concerns of the locals to the company management to have a way forward.

He noted that Hoima sugar is willing to discuss with the evictees if they can withdraw the case they filed in the Court of Appeal.


The affected individuals and their families were evicted from the land measuring 1,557 hectares after the late Prince Hebert Kimera Rwakiswaza who claimed to be the rightful owner of the land leased it to Hoima Sugar Limited for a sugar plantation and factory.

Eviction threats started in 2012, forcing the residents through their lawyers of Murungi and Kairu & Company Advocates to file a case at Masindi High Court praying that it determines the rightful owner of the land in question.

On July 2, 2014, the then Masindi High Court Judge, Justice Simon Byabakama, issued an interim court order, restricting Rwakiswaza and his agents from evicting the plaintiffs until when court decides on the rightful owner of the land, but this order was violated [contempt of court] and the locals were evicted.

After the eviction, the 398 families who are part of 50,000 residents who claim rightful ownership of the land set up a camp on church land in Kigyayo where they have lived since 2014.

Steven Buryahika, the representative of the evictees said that after their eviction, in 2015 residents failed another case of malicious damage at Masindi High Court. However, on May 6, 2022, Justice Jesse Byaruhanga ruled in favour of Hoima Sugar Limited.

Evictees waiting to hear from Court of Appeal

After the May 12, 2022, High court ruling that favoured the purported land, the evictees through their lawyers Murungi and Kairu & Company Advocates, on May 13, 2022, filed a case in Court of Appeal against the earlier ruling. The case is yet to be heard as the plaintiffs [evictee] continue to suffer.

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