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World Bank Halts New Lending to Uganda Over Anti-LGBTQ Law

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By Andrea Shalal and Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The World Bank said on Tuesday it would halt new lending to the Ugandan government after concluding that its anti-LGBTQ law, which has been condemned by many countries and the United Nations, contradicts the bank’s values.

In response, the East African country dismissed the move as unjust and hypocritical.

A World Bank team traveled to Uganda immediately after the law was enacted in May and determined that additional measures were needed to ensure projects were being implemented in line with the bank’s environmental and social standards.

“No new public financing to Uganda will be presented to our Board of Executive Directors until the efficacy of the additional measures has been tested,” the bank said in a statement, adding that such measures were now under discussion with Ugandan authorities.

“Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act fundamentally contradicts the World Bank Group’s values. We believe our vision to eradicate poverty on a livable planet can only succeed if it includes everyone irrespective of race, gender, or sexuality,” the bank said.

“We remain committed to helping all Ugandans – without exception – escape poverty, access vital services, and improve their lives.”

World Bank President Ajay Banga, who took office in June after the Ugandan law was enacted, has come under pressure to respond to the Ugandan law. On June 15, 170 civic groups urged Banga to take “specific, concrete and timely actions” in response to the Uganda anti-LGBTQ law, including suspending future lending.

Uganda’s state minister for foreign affairs, Okello Oryem accused the bank of hypocrisy, saying they were lending to countries in the Middle East and Asia that have the same or harsher laws on homosexuality.

“There are many Middle East countries who do not tolerate homosexuals, they actually hang and execute homosexuals, in the United States of America many states have passed laws that are either against or restrict activities of homosexuality … so why pick on Uganda?” he said.

“The World Bank has been put under pressure by the usual imperialists.”

The World Bank had provided $5.4 billion in International Development Association financing to Uganda by the end of 2022, including many health and education projects that could be affected by the new law.

The existing portfolio will continue to disburse funds, even as new lending is put on hold, a World Bank source said.

Private sector projects backed by the International Finance Corporation and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) would proceed only “on a selective basis,” the bank said in a separate note to staff seen by Reuters.

It said the IFC and MIGA would also implement additional measures to “ensure inclusion and non-discrimination as needed.”

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh and Andrea Shalal in Washington; Additional reporting by Elias Biryabarema in Kampala; Editing by Leslie Adler, Jonathan Oatis, Richard Chang and Christina Fincher).

Source: www.usnews.com

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Anti-oil pipeline activist in Uganda detained, pressure group says

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A Ugandan activist campaigning to stop the development of a $5 billion crude oil pipeline in east Africa by France’s TotalEnergies (TTEF.PA), opens new tab and others has been detained by Uganda’s military, the group he works for said on Wednesday.

Stephen Kwikiriza from the Ugandan environmental pressure group Environment Governance Institute (EGI) has been campaigning to halt the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).

The 1,445-km pipeline is to carry crude from oilfields in Uganda’s west through Tanzania to a port on Tanzania’s coast.

The pipeline’s opponents, including Human Rights Watch, say the project will displace hundreds of thousands of people, destroy fragile ecosystems and undermine efforts to limit carbon emissions.

In a statement, EGI said the Ugandan military had detained Kwikiriza on Tuesday in the capital Kampala, according to a text message he sent to a colleague. His whereabouts are unknown, said EGI, which works with other groups to oppose the pipeline.

“The StopEACOP coalition…condemn this latest abduction and all the recent escalation of intimidation and arrests and urges the Ugandan authorities to release the human rights defender,” EGI’s statement said.

Deo Akiiki, deputy spokesperson for Uganda’s military said he was not aware of Kwikiriza’s arrest. He said EGI should make a report to police if they believed their colleague was missing.

TotalEnergies did not immediately reply to a request for comment. The company has defended the project in the past, saying that it adheres to strict Ugandan and Tanzanian environmental laws.

Pressure groups accuse Ugandan authorities of harassing activists who have been campaigning against EACOP. Ugandan authorities deny the accusation.

Last month seven activists were briefly detained outside the Chinese embassy in Kampala as they prepared to hand over a petition to the Chinese ambassador asking China to not fund the pipeline.

Source: Reuters

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PAPs and advisors cry foul over the mismanagement of the remedy agreement with the Uganda Government facilitated by the World Bank’s IAM.

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By Witness Radio team.

When Rita Zinsanze (not her real name due to fear of retaliation) signed a remedy agreement with the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) on behalf of the Uganda government, facilitated by the World Bank Independent Accountability Mechanisms (IAM), she was confident that her land, targeted by the Second Kampala Institutional and Infrastructure Development Project (KIIDP-2), would be compensated fairly.

The agreement was aimed at mitigating the negative impacts of the drainage channel development on her livelihood and gave her hope for a just resolution.

Rita’s family is one of the hundreds of families affected by the construction of the Lubigi drainage project, which is part of the KIIDP2 project implemented by KCCA.

“I wanted fair compensation so that I could buy land elsewhere and resettle my family, hoping to rebuild our lives as we once lived,” she revealed in an interview with a Witness Radio journalist.

Before the coming of the project, Rita used to live happily with her family on her 100 ft70 ft plot (0.065 hectares) of land farming yams, sugarcanes, and trees, which she used to sell and earn a living to cater for her family’s needs.

“I used to earn at least 500,000 Uganda shillings (131.53 United States Dollars) from yams and sugarcanes every season plus doing other works that supplemented my living.” She added.

But now, Rita says her situation has worsened since the project got to her land. Now, she struggles to make ends meet for her family of 10 because the compensation is very little to enable her to find an alternative piece of land elsewhere.

Rita, like other Kawaala Project Affected Persons (PAPs), finds themselves disillusioned, as none of the promises made before signing the agreement have materialized.

“Every time I follow up on my additional compensation and other promises, they (governmental officials) keep extending days to get my entitlements. I am becoming hopeless for the endless and empty trips I have been making to their offices.” she lamented.

May 31st, 2024, marked the first anniversary since a remedy agreement was signed. In the agreement, PAPs were promised additional compensation, livelihood restoration projects, settlement, and other support.

Instead, the aftermath has brought more negative impacts on the community members, including increased flooding of the area caused by poor drainage, hate speeches, poverty, and family separation.

In a statement released on June 3rd, 2024, by both Witness Radio and Accountability Counsel under the title: One Year Later, Justice is Delayed called upon KCCA and the World Bank to pay agreed compensation, address livelihood concerns, provide a thorough update, and ensure effective monitoring of the implementation of the agreement among others.

Furthermore, the statement mentions that some members of the community are worried that the remains of their departed family members would be lost as some of these affected community members are yet to be compensated for this loss and have not been able to restore their loved ones’ grave sites.

For more details on the statement, click on the link below; https://witnessradio.org/one-year-later-justice-is-delayed-a-joint-statement-on-the-implementation-of-the-kiidp-2-kawaala-community-agreement/

A brief background of the project;

KCCA in 2015 acquired a USD 175 million loan from the World Bank and the International Development Association (IDA) for Kampala Institution and Infrastructure Development (KIIDP) project. However, part of the money (USD 17.5 million, which is 63 billion Uganda shillings) is to finance the construction of Lubigi Primary Channel.

On December 3, 2020, the Kawaala communities were shocked to find KCCA representatives in their village, accompanied by armed police officers, distributing eviction notices and informing residents that they had 28 days to vacate their homes. A few days later, for instance, in the wee hours of 05th/12/2020, the community started experiencing attacks by armed anti-riot police and workers of the construction company; destroying properties, without any prior consultation or plan for compensation and resettlement.

In a bid to find justice, in June 2021, the affected community filed a complaint with the World Bank’s Inspection Panel and raised concerns about forced evictions during COVID-19. At the time of the Complaint, the Kawaala community worried that their land would be taken away without adequate compensation and that the project had been marred with retaliatory attacks from people believed to be project implementers against project affected community.

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Banks have given almost $7tn to fossil fuel firms since Paris deal, report reveals

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Among world’s top 60 banks those in US are biggest fossil fuel financiers, while Barclays leads way in Europe.

The world’s big banks have handed nearly $7tn (£5.6tn) in funding to the fossil fuel industry since the Paris agreement to limit carbon emissions, according to research.

In 2016, after talks in Paris, 196 countries signed an agreement to limit global heating as a result of carbon emissions to at most 2C above preindustrial levels, with an ideal limit of 1.5C to prevent the worst impacts of a drastically changed climate.

Many countries have since promised to reduce carbon emissions, but the latest research shows private interests continued to funnel money to oil, gas and coal companies, which have used it to expand their operations.

Eight in 10 of the world’s most eminent climate scientists now foresee at least 2.5C of global heating, according to the results of a Guardian survey published last week – an outcome expected to lead to devastating consequences for civilisation.

Researchers for the banking on climate chaos report, now in its 15th edition, analysed the world’s top 60 banks’ underwriting and lending to more than 4,200 fossil fuel firms and companies causing the degradation of the Amazon and Arctic.

Those banks, they found, gave $6.9tn in financing to oil, coal and gas companies, nearly half of which – $3.3tn – went towards fossil fuel expansion. Even in 2023, two years after many large banks vowed to work towards lowering emissions as part of the Net Zero Banking Alliance, bank finance for fossil fuel companies was $705bn, with $347bn going towards expansion, the report says.

US banks were the biggest financiers of the fossil fuel industry, contributing 30% of the total $705bn provided in 2023, the report found. JP Morgan Chase gave the most of any bank in the world, providing $40.8bn to fossil fuel companies in 2023, while Bank of America came in third. The world’s second biggest financier of fossil fuels was the Japanese bank Mizuho, which provided $37.1bn.

London-based Barclays was Europe’s biggest fossil fuel financier, with $24.2bn, followed by Spain’s Santander at $14.5bn and Germany’s Deutsche Bank with $13.4bn. Overall, European banks stumped up just over a quarter of the total fossil fuel financing in 2023, according to the report.

Tom BK Goldtooth, the executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, which co-authored the study, said: “Financiers and investors of fossil fuels continue to light the flame of the climate crisis. Paired with generations of colonialism, the fossil fuel industry and banking institutions’ investment in false solutions create unlivable conditions for all living relatives and humanity on Mother Earth.

“As Indigenous peoples, we remain on the frontlines of the climate catastrophe, and the fossil fuel industry targets our lands and territories as sacrifice zones to continue their extraction. Capitalism and its extraction-based economy will only perpetuate more harm and destruction against our Mother Earth and it must come to an end.”

Critics of the report said its methodology, which relied on investigating deals reported by financial market data companies such as Bloomberg and Refinitiv, meant researchers did not have a detailed view of what was being financed, and by whom.

Specifically, syndicated loans, bond issues and underwriting arrangements often involved several banks with varying levels of exposure. And financing to fossil fuel companies to fund transition technology projects could not be distinguished from financing for new oil wells, they said.

Spokespeople for Barclays, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Deutsche Bank and Santander all emphasised that their organisations were supporting energy sector clients’ transitions toward more sustainable business models. Mizuho declined a request for comment.

Source: the guardian.com

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