Religious leaders along the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) corridor and those in other oil project host communities have been challenged to heighten their vigilance to ensure respect for environmental and human rights.
The multi-faith climate justice advocacy organisation said this in the latest engagement with different faith group representatives, youth and women environmental activists held in Uganda’s capital Kampala for persons affected by the oil projects of EACOP, oil refinery, Tilenga and Kingfisher were also represented.
They said failure to protect environment in the name of development could have far-reaching effects including food insecurity and massive loss of livelihoods since environment is the basis for all developments.
The religious leaders were also challenged to hold the government accountable for any steps that degrade environmental and human rights.
“Africa is a little behind in faith leaders’ holding governments accountable on matters that affect the rights of their followers. But the reality hits. You cannot continue to say “God is good” to a hungry congregation. You cannot comfortably teach hungry children in a Madrasa and expect them to follow and learn. Religious leaders must use their voice for the good of all,” said Meryne Warah, the GreenFaith Global Director for Advocacy and Organising.
The two-day workshop was intended to build a strong solidarity against issues around the EACOP and analyse the status of people of faith working in oil host communities.
GreenFaith also launched new circles in the workshop themed: “Strengthening capacities of people of faith amidst closing civic space.”
In their joint press statement, the more than 35 religious leaders opposed Uganda’s oil industry and asked the government to make commitment to universal access to clean energy.
Earlier, Pastor Edward Lukwago, also a community monitor for EACOP project affected persons in Sembabule district, claimed there was delayed and poor compensation which may have far reaching effects.
The faith leaders urged their seniors at the Interreligious Council of Uganda to always stand firm for the rights of the population.
Mr Maxwell Atuhuura, the GreenFaith Grassroots Organiser in Uganda, urged the government not to shrink the civic space.
“We rebuke, not to disrespect, but to point out areas that need more consideration… EACOP profits must not come at the expense of human rights,” he said.
Rev Fred Musimenta who is also an EACOP Project Affected Person (PAP) in Hoima district, applauded GreenFaith for continued efforts to bring religious leaders on board for building their capacity on their role of defending environmental and human rights.
Ms Beatrice Rukanyanga, an activist from Hoima, called upon religious leaders to advocate for narrowing civic space.