Food insecurity, children dropping out of school, impoverishment of households… In addition to the “devastating” effects on the environment, the NGO Human Rights Watch warns in a report about the dangers of TotalEnergy’s pipeline megaproject in Uganda and calls for it to stop. She condemns the “inadequate compensation” and late from the French company to the local population.
TotalEnergy’s oil megaproject in Uganda, described as a “disaster” for the population, “has destroyed the livelihoods of thousands of people” and “will contribute to the global climate crisis”, lamented, on Monday, July 10, Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a report. The human rights NGO demanded that he be stopped.
Last year, TotalEnergies announced a $10 billion investment deal with Uganda, Tanzania and the Chinese company CNOOC, including the construction of a 1,443 kilometer long oil pipeline (EACOP) linking the fields from Lake Albert in western Uganda to Tanzania’s coast on the Indian Ocean Ocean.
However, the project has faced opposition from environmental activists and groups who believe it threatens the region’s fragile ecosystem and the people who live there.
For the human rights NGO HRW, the project “impoverishes thousands of people” and will displace more than 100,000 people. EACOP “has caused food insecurity and household debt, contributed to children dropping out of school and risks having devastating effects on the environment”, the NGO continues in a report, the result of more than 90 interviews. , including with 75 displaced families in five districts of the East African country.
The debt of the inhabitants after the delays in compensation
The oil project is “a disaster for the tens of thousands of people who lost land, provided food for their families and an income to send their children to school, and who received insufficient compensation from TotalEnergie,” Felix said in the report. Horne, researcher specializing in the environment at HRW, before continuing: “EACOP is also a disaster for the planet and the project should not be terminated”.
Several farmers interviewed by HRW say they had to wait years for compensation and had gone into debt.
“They come here and promise us everything”
Some villagers said they were forced to sign compensation agreements in English, a language they could not read, while others also told researchers that “the presence of government and security at public meetings has helped create an aura of intimidation ,” HRW points out.
“They come here and promise us everything,” one resident told HRW. “We believed them. Now we are landless, the compensation money is gone, the fields we have left are flooded and dust fills the air.”
TotalEnergies says it offered fair compensation
In a response sent to HRW in June, TotalEnergies said it had offered fair compensation to farmers and would “continue to pay particular attention to respecting the rights of affected communities”.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled the country with an iron fist since 1986, has repeatedly described the project as a major economic driver in the landlocked country, despite a non-binding European Parliament resolution last year that found “violations ” of human rights against opponents.
At the end of June, twenty-six Ugandans and five French and Ugandan associations launched a new lawsuit in France to demand “compensation” from the giant TotalEnergies for the “damage” caused, according to them, by its controversial oil megaproject.
In February, the court in Paris dismissed the opponents of the oil megaproject in Uganda and Tanzania, accusing the NGOs of not having sufficiently explored the path of dialogue with the oil giant before going to court.