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Activists petition European Union, urge it to back off Uganda’s oil

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Activists led by Mawejje Frank have petitioned the European Union (EU) urging it to back off Uganda’s oil. Protected by police, the activists chanted outside EU offices at Crested Towers, Kampala.

Received by unknown officials from the EU in Kampala, the activists claimed both Uganda and Tanzania conducted a feasibility study about the projects and established that they will not affect the community.

“Stop meddling in our Oil. Uganda is an independent country with its minerals, this is our oil,” reads on one of the placards carried by activists.

Last week, the EU parliament passed a resolution calling on TotalEnergies to take one year before launching the 1445-kilometer East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project to study the feasibility of an alternative route to better safeguard protected and sensitive ecosystems and the water resources of Uganda and Tanzania.

According to the resolution EU parliament claimed that the project will generate up to 34 million tonnes of carbon emissions per year yet the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned in a 2021 report that limiting global warming to 1.5 °C to prevent climate change’s most destructive impacts would require new oil and gas development to stop immediately.

They also said nearly 118,000 people are affected by the oil projects. Their homes were destroyed to facilitate the construction of access roads; their land was requisitioned without prior payment of fair and adequate compensation. The compensation paid is often far too low to allow farmers whose land has been expropriated to buy comparable land on which to continue farming.

“EU Parliament asks the authorities in Uganda and Tanzania to ensure human rights advocates, journalists, and civil society groups are free to carry out their work in at-risk communities and called for all arbitrarily arrested human rights defenders to be released immediately,” they said.

The Parliament of Uganda condemned the motion for a resolution by the European Union Parliament that calls on Uganda and Tanzania to stop the development of the oil and gas projects in the East African region.

During the plenary, the deputy Speaker of Parliament Thomas Tayebwa said the EU’s motion seeks to curtail the progress of Uganda’s oil and gas developments and by extension, the country’s socio-economic growth and development. It also seeks to deny Ugandans and East Africans the benefits and opportunities of the oil and gas sector.

He said over 70% of the persons affected by land acquisition for the projects have been compensated or resettled and are undergoing livelihood improvement projects in agriculture, financial literacy, and vocational skills, among others. Efforts to fully compensate all project-affected persons are ongoing, with cooperation from the local communities and leaders. The land is not utilized by the projects before the compensation processes are concluded, and any related grievances are addressed through a participatory process.

President Yoweri Museveni assured the country that the project shall proceed as stipulated in the contract we have with TotalEnergies and CNOOC.

“We should remember that Total Energies convinced me about the Pipeline idea; if they choose to listen to the EU Parliament, we shall find someone else to work with. Either way, we shall have our oil coming out by 2025 as planned. So, the people of Uganda should not worry,” he said.

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