25 February 2013

Uganda: Army Deploys At DR Congo Border

Photo: UNHCR
Refugees who came in search of a safe haven, but Uganda has been anything but safe (file photo).

The Uganda People's Defense Forces (UPDF) has deployed heavily at the Uganda - Democratic Republic of Congo border in Kanungu district following renewed fighting between Mai Mai militia and M23 rebels close to the Uganda border in Nyamirima.

The Mai Mai and M23 are fighting for control of the borderline which has been inhabited by the former. The Mai Mai claims the area to be their ancestral land.

Ugandans living close to Democratic Republic of Congo in Kihembe, Butogota and Nyanga told the New Vision of loud explosions across the border although they were not personally affected by the renewed hostilities.

The UPDF 2nd Division spokesman Lt Ninsiima Rwakijuma said the deployment of more forces along the border is routine exercise for the army and there was nothing unusual about the situation along the border.

"This is our normal routine deployments because we know that all is not well across the border and we don't want the conflict to spill over to our side," Rwakijuma told the New Vision on phone.

The deployments which started last Thursday, however follow a series of incidents in which unidentified armed thugs have reportedly been terrorizing areas close to the border with DR Congo with a latest incident being the February 19th in which a lone gunman entered an office in Ishasha sector of the Queen Elizabeth National Park in Kanungu district and shot the Uganda Wildlife Authority Accountant one Angel Kobusheshe who died as he was being rushed to Kihiihi Health Center IV.

Another reliable security source also said two armed men were recently arrested near Butogota town a few kilometers from the border with Congo and are believed to be Ugandans who had been recruited in the rebel ranks in Congo. Efforts to establish the identities of the two men were futile as the security officials in the area said that it would jeopardize the investigations which have been instituted in the matter.

Another group of Congolese believed to be Mai Mai militias were last week denied entry into Uganda and those who had crossed the border were handed back to the Congolese authorities at Ishasha after they refused to be treated as refugees and even refused to go to Matanda Refugee Transit Center in Kihiihi sub county where all refuges from Congo are taken before they are sent to resettlement camps in Kamwenge district.

Kanungu Deputy Resident District Commissioner Juuko Kasiita who heads the District Security committee said that following a series of armed attacks on civilian targets in the district it was necessary to get reinforcements to beef up security in the district and along the common border to ensure that those behind the attacks are brought to book.

"We are following the attackers and we shall soon get hold of them," Kasiita said.

Meanwhile more Congolese nationals continue to flee their homes to seek refuge in Uganda through the border point of Kyeshero and Ishasha.

The RDC told reporters that the Congolese had stopped to enter Uganda towards Christmas but for the last two weeks they have been coming in big numbers and they are taken to Matanda Refugee Transit center in Kihiihi sub county awaiting to be taken to Rwamwanja in Kamwenge district.

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