UPDF on high alert at Uganda-Congo border

Uganda-DR Congo border of Mpondwe-Lhubiriha. Courtesy photo

What you need to know:

  • Fighting between the two parties started on March 28 in the Rutshuru area of North Kivu province. Since then, there have been pockets of skirmishes that have forced many Congolese nationals to cross into Uganda through the Bunangana border and other porous border entries in Kisoro District.

The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) has been deployed at the Democratic Republic of Congo-Uganda border as fighting between the M23 rebels and the Congolese government soldiers continues.

Fighting between the two parties started on March 28 in the Rutshuru area of North Kivu province. Since then, there have been pockets of skirmishes that have forced many Congolese nationals to cross into Uganda through the Bunangana border and other porous border entries in Kisoro District.

“The UPDF has been deployed on the border line with Uganda and the DRC and it is on high alert for any insurgency as fighting between the Congolese government soldiers and the M23 rebels continues,” Mr Shafiq Sekandi, the Kisoro Resident District Commissioner, said, adding: “For now, the Ugandan borderline is well secured because other security agencies are also busy getting security intelligence reports.”

Mr Sekandi, who doubles as the Kisoro District Security Committee chairperson, warned Ugandans against hosting the Congolese refugees in their homes. He said the refugees should instead head to Nyakabande refugee transit camp for proper registration and recognition as asylum seekers.

“Cross-border business between Uganda and the DRC is now on standstill because of this armed conflict. As of now, there is no single cargo truck or passenger vehicle crossing from either side of the country,” he said, adding: “Dozens of cargo trucks transporting manufactured products from Uganda to Goma in the DRC are currently parked at Bunagana border as their drivers wait for the security situation to normalise.”

Saturday Monitor understands that Dott Services Ltd, which had started working on the Bunagana-Goma road, withdrew their equipment because of the armed conflict in the area.

“After withdrawing their equipment from DR Congo, the management of Dott Services Ltd resorted to the establishment of the camp in Kabaya Cell in Bunagana Town Council in Kisoro District, where they are constructing staff houses, establishing mechanical workshops, installing fuel pumps, establishing the stone quarries, among other development as they wait for the armed conflict in Congo to end,” Mr Sekandi said.

The commandant of the Nyakabande refugee transit camp in Kisoro under the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr Daniel Kisaamo, said the  cumulative number of asylum seekers at Nyakabande Transit Centre since March 28, is 25,929 individuals from 13,378 households.

“We encourage all the asylum seekers to move from border communities where they are illegally staying to come to Nyakabande refugee transit camp where they will be registered and recognised as asylum seekers after they will be availed with accommodation facilities, meals and health care,” Mr Kisaamo said.

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