From left to right: Stella Lanam Angel, a former LRA abductee, Helen Olanya, a lawyer working with FIDA Uganda, Hon. Lyandro Komakech, MP Gulu Municipality, and Jolly Laker, Country director of Invisible Children, during a press conference at TAKS Art Center in Gulu Town. Photo by Okumu Langol.

Former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) vulnerable women are on economic slavery exploitation.

 AMURU-UGANDA: In July 2017, the government of Uganda extended a credit facility of US$ 17.4 million (UHX62, 66 billion) to company Horal Investment Holding Limited sugar cane out grower to benefit Atiak community. Little did the people of Atiak know that the greener pasture project would turn into exploitation.

Lanam Stella Angle, the women leader for former LRA returnees who also doubles as the Chairperson of Former LRA War Victims Children Networking says last year 2018, 8,000 women from Amuru, Gulu, Pader, Kitgum, Lamwo, Agago, Omoro and Nwoya districts including women from West Nile Region were taken to Atiak Sugar Cane factory for sugar cane plantation and promised to be given five acres of sugar cane.

Lanam revealed that before they were transported to begin work in Atiak Sugar cane factory, two ladies called Laker Joyce and Christine Lutara took them to Uganda Parliament and introduced them to Dr. Amina Norghel who is the owner of Horyal Investment Holdings Limited for the negotiation.

“When we were taken to Kampala to meet Dr. Amina in Parliament, we agreed that each woman will be given 5 acres of sugar cane, we are going to plant the sugar cane, weed it, and later during harvest the proceed will be given to us. Beside that we are going to be paid UGX 70,000, excluding our transport and feeding that shall be catered for by the company.” Lanam Stella reiterates.

“However, when we started work during planting period, the management of Atiak sugar cane works started paying us only UGX 45,000, and when anybody complained, her name is deleted from the payment list.” Lanam reveals how they were being intimidated by the management.

Abwola Betty ages 40, and a mother of 5 children born from LRA captivity says they were taken to Atiak Sugar Cane Works and promised Heaven on Earth. “We were told that each of us will be treated as sugar cane out grower, with 5 acres given to each of us, but we have not seen or being shown the 5 acres of sugar cane.” She laments.

“We were also promised good payment of UGX70, 000 each for our services. But now I am being paid UGX 2,500 per day, and we are afraid to complain since Laker Joyce and Christine Lutara threatened to deport whoever complains since they are providing free meals and transport to and fro Atiyak.” Dejected Abwola decried.

Harriet Olanya, a lawyer working with FIDA Uganda who is advocating for former women LRA returnees describes the way how the women are being treated in Atiyak sugar works as Human Rights abuses.

“The Horyal Investment Holding Limited they are abusing the rights of these women LRA returnees through exploiting them, instead of empowering them economically.” Harriet Olanya argued.

She further appeals to the government of Uganda, Civil Societies Organizations and other Human Rights activists to follow up the issue, “We have the law of Children tracking Act.” Ms. Olanya warned.

The new sugar factory, has a capacity to crush 1, 650 tonnes (165,000kg) of raw sugar cane daily, producing 66,000 tonnes (66,000,00g) of powdered sugar annually.

The factory will employ over 1,500 people and will contract over 5,000 out growers, the owners of the company have established a working relationship with Gulu women Entrepreneurs Association Limited (GWAL), whose objective is to develop Northern Uganda.

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