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UPDF rescues 105 from South Sudan

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UPDF rescues 105 from South Sudan

Some of the injured Ugandans in an ambulance to Mulago hospital after they were rescued from South Sudan. Photo by Martin Ssebuyira. 

By Martin Ssebuyira & Risdel Kasasira

Posted  Saturday, December 21  2013 at  00:00

In Summary

The deployment of UPDF soldier at Juba Airport was authorised by the South Sudan government.

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The UPDF on Friday evacuated 105 people from Juba, 88 of who are Ugandans.

Two Ugandans were critically injured and were rescued by Chief of Defence Forces Katumba Wamala who visited Juba in a fixed-wing aircraft, while 103 were evacuated by a Uganda Air Cargo aircraft under the Ministry of Defence.

Capt Anthony Tabaro Kiconco, the acting UPDF Air force spokesperson, said: “Fifteen of the rescued people were Chinese and 88 Ugandans, 16 of whom are children; 95 per cent of the evacuated people are women…”

He said they brought the Chinese along since they were near their embassy so “there is no way we would leave them behind”.

He said the evacuated Ugandans would be taken to Central Police Station in Kampala from where they will find their way back home as the army continues the evacuation exercise.

Ms Jane Namalwa, who works at the customs unit in Juba, said men in uniform stormed their home at night and called out names of people and killed them instantly. She said she was saved because she had a baby.

Ms Namalwa said they have Ugandan leadership in South Sudan who helped in mobilizing them and the embassy which kept contacting Ugandans they knew.

“We have left over 10,000 Ugandans stranded at the embassy and some were not registered and have no documents which is making it hard for them to be evacuated,” she said.

Government sent soldiers to South Sudan following the week-long fighting between the government army and mutineers loyal to sacked vice president Riek Machar.

Military sources said the government sent soldiers from the elite presidential guard with fighter planes. The sources said the Ugandan soldiers first secured Juba Airport before starting the evacuations.

“Uganda has deployed troops in Juba to facilitate the evacuation mission of stranded Ugandans and Kenyans, most of who are injured,” UPDF spokesperson Paddy Ankunda said.

He said the deployment of UPDF soldiers at Juba Airport was authorised by the South Sudan government.

However, he denied that the soldiers had been deployed to stop advancing mutinying forces loyal to Machar.

Several countries and international agencies have started evacuating their citizens and staff from South Sudan as the fighting threatened to slip into a full scale civil war.

About 5,000 foreign nationals have been evacuated by road from South Sudan since the fighting broke out last Sunday.

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