S. Sudan, Uganda leaders meet over cross border insecurity 

Exodus. UPDF trucks accompany Ugandans out of South Sudan following the 2013 violence. Many Ugandan traders lost goods worth billion of shillings in the war. FILE PHOTO

Security chiefs of South Sudan and West Nile Sub-region have agreed to end cases of cross border insecurity that have for long strained relations between the two countries.

The resolution was reached during a cross border security meeting between the leaders of Central Equatoria State and those of West Nile districts of Koboko, Yumbe and Moyo held at Yumbe District headquarters last weekend.

The security situation at the joint border has been volatile amid counter accusations between the two countries of supporting rebel activities, especially inside South Sudan.

Some of the issues identified by the leaders that contribute to insecurity include gun trafficking, rebel recruitment, abductions, encroachment, animal theft and plundering of the natural resources.

The Yumbe District chairperson, Mr Abdulmutwalib Asiku, said despite the continuous cross border security meetings, there are still some issues of insecurity at the borders.

“We still have cases of animal theft that are still continuing at the border sub-counties of Kerwa, Wandi, Kei and Midigo. There are also abductions and killings happening at the borders by people not clearly identified. This continues to be a very serious challenge for us,” he said.

He said because of the porous stretch from Moyo-Yumbe-Moyo, there is a tendency of criminals taking advantage to destabilise people who have settled at the borders.

Mr Hussein Hudu, the Yumbe resident district commissioner, said a number of resolutions were made in the previous meetings to address the issues of insecurity at the borders but they have remained unexecuted to date.

“We still have allegations of guns being sold to Ugandans illegally at Shs500,000. There are also allegations of rebel recruitment in Uganda and South Sudan so these are sensitive matters our security teams are scrutinising to ascertain their authenticity,” he said.

For instance, early this month, seven Ugandan youth, who were allegedly recruited as rebels to fight the South Sudan government, surrendered to Ugandan authorities in Koboko District.

The youth, who were allegedly recruited into Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) and National Salvation Front (NAS), surrendered after life became difficult in the jungles. But the SPLA-IO deputy spokesperson, Col Gabriel Lam, denied ever recruiting any Ugandan to fight for them.

Col Ben Serwanda, the Brigadier Commander of the 409 Brigade, said: “Any person who interferes with the security, peace and stability of the two countries, the guys in uniform and the RDCs can settle. We launched an operation against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and they are no more. So no one will manage to destabilise us.”

On his part, the Governor Central Equatoria State in South Sudan, Mr Anthony Emmanuel Adil, said they remain committed to engaging the people and districts of the West Nile Sub-region to maintain sustainable border relations.

He said: “The criminal and rebel activities undermine the commitment made by our presidents to maintain healthy relationships. This meeting in Yumbe is to strengthen our commitment to continue engaging our communities and the government at various levels in building.”