Ugandan youths recruited as rebels in South Sudan surrender

The Deputy Spokesman for Sudan People's Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO), Col. Gabriel Lam, during a press conference in South Sudan recently. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • The youths 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.

Some Ugandan youths who were allegedly recruited as rebels to fight the South Sudanese government, surrendered to authorities in Koboko Thursday afternoon.

The youths 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.

According to Ugandan security, they have received 10 guns in Koboko and Yumbe districts from the youths who surrendered. 

Speaking to the Monitor, the Koboko Resident District Commissioner, Mr Tom Olinga, said: “So far we have received four guns and Yumbe has received six guns and some few military assortments handed over willingly from these boys who are returning back. The guns are currently with our UPDF authorities.”

He says the returnees are Ugandan Youth who were recruited into rebel activities in South Sudan but however couldn’t be absorbed into the forces in the ongoing peace deals between government of South Sudan and the rebel groups.

The soldiers especially from the SPLA-IO have been undergoing integration into the national army of South Sudan, the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) as part of the peace process.

According to the RDC, the intelligence reports show that over 500 youth who had crossed to join the rebel activities in South Sudan are expected to report back to Uganda.

“We have the information already and we know them per Sub County but they are free to come back so long as they are not a security threat,” he added.

The Deputy Spokesman for SPLA-IO, Col. Gabriel Lam, said their army doesn't engage in recruitment of non-South Sudanese.

"The statement by Ugandan security is very tricky because they have not mentioned where the alleged rebels were based. South Sudan is large and also the border is big. For us, we don't recruit outside South Sudan and for us we don't recruit people into our system even during the hot war in 2016, we didn't recruit,” he said.

“Why would Ugandans join our forces when they don't have an agenda? We are currently concentrating on consolidating the peace process only."

For a long time, the South Sudan government leaders have in several meetings accused Ugandan authorities for allowing their youths to be recruited in rebel groups to fight the government.

For instance during the March 13, 2019 cross border meeting in Koboko town, Col. Ali Wani Jacob, the Director of Military Intelligence in Yei River State for South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF), accused Ugandan government for allowing and promoting rebel activities through the recruitment of the youth among the camps and towns to join the rebel group of SPLA-IO.

“The strong historical relationship of the two countries can’t be divided by an individual nor by the Presidents of the nations, we shall continue to co-exist and as leaders we need to protect the relationship and peace jealously,” he said.  

He said some criminals in South Sudan have taken the long-time instability as an advantage to rob people, kill, destroy peace, and sneak guns into Uganda especially in the refugee camps which he said can only be prevented and halted through joint efforts.

That time, the security leaders from Uganda vehemently denied the accusations. South Sudan has been unstable since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005 that led to attainment of Independence. The two wars that erupted after the agreement have forced over 1 million South Sudan refugees into Uganda.

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