South Sudan refugees enter Uganda despite border closure

South Sudan refugees have continued to enter Uganda despite the closure of the country`s borders as directed by President Yoweri Museveni.

The President announced closure of Uganda’s borders last week in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The State Minister for Refugees and Disaster Preparedness, Musa Ecweru also announced last week that they had stopped receiving new refugees because of the COVID19 threat.

As of now, Uganda has registered 33 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Mr Titus Jogo, the Adjumani Refugee Desk Officer said over the weekend that they receive over 30 South Sudan nationals daily.

He explained that the refugees enter Uganda through the porous border, which stretches from Moyo to Lamwo district.

He says that most of the refugees come to pick food and money distributed by humanitarian agencies and then cross back into South Sudan.

Mr Jogo however says that after holding a series of meetings with security, they have resolved to repatriate all refugees entering Uganda through the porous borders.
“We are trying as much as we can to minimize of congestion and we are doing well. However, the ongoing lifesaving activities like food distribution is a pull factor for some of these people across the borders,” he says.

“We now have a task force and we are trying to seal off those border points. So far we have returned over 100 South Sudanese who had sneaked into Uganda through those porous borders back to their country and that is going to show a strong signal,” he adds.

Adjumani District Health Officer, Mr George Bhoka says the continuous entry of South Sudan refugees into Uganda compromises the health of residents and refugees in the district.

Ms Nancy Aol, a resident of Adjumani town, says the continued entry of South Sudanese makes it difficult to fight the Covid-19 pandemic since they mingle freely with people in the district.

Mr Denis Idro, another resident of Adjumani town observes that most of the new entrants neither speak English nor Madi, which makes it difficult for residents to guide them precautionary measures like hand washing.