Ugandans, Sudanese flee upsurge in violence

Some of the South Sudanese who fled into Uganda following the violence in their country arrive at Madi-Opei immigration border post in Lamwo District recently. PHOTO BY JULUIS OCUNGI.

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At least 19 of 65 Ugandans who were reportedly trapped in clashes that erupted early last week between rebel forces and the South Sudanese Army (SPLA), have safely returned to Uganda

LAMWO. At least 19 of 65 Ugandans who were reportedly trapped in clashes that erupted early last week between rebel forces and the South Sudanese Army (SPLA), have safely returned to Uganda, security officials have said.
The violence that erupted on December 8, in Ikotos, Eastern Equatorial State, about 60km from Ugandan border, saw a total of 343 South Sudanese fleeing to Ugandan territory in Lamwo District at the weekend.

South Sudanese who had camped at Madi-Opei border post in Madi-Opei Sub-County have since been relocated to Dzaipi Refugees camp in Adjumani District by United Nations High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR).
Speaking to Daily Monitor in a telephone interview on Monday, Lamwo Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Jonathan Rutabingwa confirmed that 19 of the 65 Ugandan traders crossed safely into Uganda on Sunday.

More refugees
Mr Rutabingwa said 17 more South Sudanese have also crossed into the country and are being briefly kept at Madi-Opei immigration border post, waiting to be transported to Adjumani District.
“We are glad that our people have come back safely. We still understand that about 46 others are still weighing on the situation despite some normalcy returning into the area,” Mr Rutabingwa said.

The RDC noted that some South Sudan soldiers tried to stop the Ugandans and some of their own from leaving Ikotos County, fearing that it would send bad image of war happening in the country.
He said according to sources from Ikotos, both the government forces and the rebel groups have halted their fighting but noted the security was still fragile in Africa’s youngest nation’s Eastern Equatorial state.

Mr Timothy Senyonjo, a Ugandan trader who is still in Ikwotos County, told Daily Monitor in telephone interview that despite some normalcy that has returned, fears are high that another clash may erupt in the due course of the week.
“We are requesting our government to be on standby and ready to rescue some of us who are still weighing the situation in case fighting erupts,” Mr Senyonjo said.
Daily Monitor received information at the weekend that the rebel forces, who defected from the mainstream SPLA forces, last week attacked the government barracks in Ikotos, killing one soldier and injuring another.

The Riek Machar factor
There is looming fear that security in the country may be at stake as rebel leader Dr Riek Machar’s advance team enters Juba capital today to prepare ground for his reception to assume office as the ‘first vice president’ of the country.
There were reports that the government of South Sudan were opposing a plan by Dr Machar to send in 600 advance teams as opposed to the government’s suggestion of 20 men.

Both Dr Machar and President Salva Kiir in August signed a peace deal in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to end months of bloodshed after conflict erupted between the two in December 2013. Dr Machar, then vice president, was sacked by President Kiir on allegations that he attempted to plot a coup to overthrow his government.