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HRW: Uganda Oil Pipeline Devastates Thousands

FILE — Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni poses with King of Bunyoro (L) and Tanzania's Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Augustine Mahiga (R) during the ceremony marking the laying of the foundation stone for the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) in Kabaale.

KAMPALA — Global human rights organization, Human Rights Watch Monday released a report that said a planned oil pipeline to help Uganda export crude to international markets has “devastated” the lives of thousands of people.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) statement reported the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), which will benefit Uganda through international crude sales, has witnessed thousands of people experiencing delayed or inadequate compensation for their land.

The global human rights organization said the EACOP is a disaster for the planet because it will add emissions that exacerbate climate change.

"EACOP has been a disaster for the tens of thousands who have lost the land that provided food for their families and an income to send their children to school, and who received too little compensation from TotalEnergies," read the HRW statement.

HRW said it had conducted over 90 interviews earlier this year, including with 75 displaced families across 5 districts in Uganda.

The process to acquire land for the project, HRW added, had "caused severe financial hardships for thousands of Ugandan farmers, including heavy household debt."

Preliminary groundwork for EACOP started this year with a completion date scheduled for 2025 and a planned cost of $3.5 billion as the oil pipeline will carry crude from the oilfields in Uganda’s west through Tanzania to the Indian Ocean seaport of Tanga.

A spokesperson for French company TotalEnergies, the majority stake owner of EACOP, refuted the HRW’s accusations, instead arguing that they respect the rights of the affected people.

"We are doing everything to ensure it (EACOP) is a model in terms of transparency, shared prosperity, economic and social progress," the spokesperson said, adding those affected were being relocated to nearby areas and would experience better conditions of living.

Nearly all the people affected by the project have been compensated, he said.

EACOP has been heavily criticized by clean energy advocates and rights groups that argue the project has caused mass displacement and will ruin multiple ecologically sensitive areas along its path in Uganda and Tanzania.

EACOP has witnessed some banks vowing not to finance the project as human rights groups call for global lenders not to funding the oil pipeline.