Uganda: Four Years Later, Sophia Has Not Been Found

A kob looking at tourists in Murchison Falls National Park.

On September 11, 2015, Sophia Koetsier, 21, was at an e-ticket counter making her booking to travel to Uganda. During her stay in the Pearl of Africa, she disappeared from the Student Wildlife Education Centre in Paraa near the banks of River Nile in Murchison Falls National Park.

Since October 28, 2015, she has never been seen again. She told her colleagues she was going to ease herself and was never seen again. Sophia was a medical student from the Netherlands and was undertaking an internship programme at Rubaga Hospital in Kampala.

The then regional police commander of Aswa, Wilson Kwanya, could neither confirm if she was dead or alive. "We cannot declare that Ms Sophia is dead, but where it has reached now, it is hard to predict where she could be. This is not the first time the search has been called off by both Ugandan officials and specialists from the Netherlands," he said in 2016.

The police engaged the canine unit, deployed a helicopter for aerial search, used marine officers and foot patrols in search of Sophia, but in vain.

This paper reported in 2016 that a team of 12 private security investigators flew into the country from the Netherlands to aid the search for Sophia, whose search was suspended by the police and Uganda Wildlife Authority after futile efforts to find her.

With no conclusive report on the whereabouts of Sophia, there are fears that she could have fallen prey to wild animals within the Murchison Falls National Park.

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