By Josepha Jabo
I would like to thank President Museveni for sending Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) soldiers to South Sudan to evacuate scores of Ugandan Nationals stranded in the recent July 2016 clashes. It is the humanitarian and patriotic thing to do and, being the Commander-in-Chief of Uganda’s armed forces, we would expect nothing less from our leader. Indeed, as one of the trending hashtags on Twitter states #UgandanLivesMatter. This is not the first time UPDF has liberated Ugandan citizens from South Sudan. When civil war broke out in December 2013, in 2014 UPDF swooped in and rescued Ugandans who were caught up in South Sudan’s mêlée.
On Tuesday, July 12, 2016, Amelia Kyambadde, Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, issued a travel advisory to all Ugandans as she addressed the media at Uganda Media Centre saying, “I appeal to Ugandans, please do not go to South Sudan now! Your life will be at risk.” She added that the Uganda government attempted a rescue mission by air, but since the airport was closed they would send 30 trucks along the Nimule route to evacuate Ugandan nationals. Ugandans, within the vicinity of the Ugandan Embassy in Juba, were advised to go there for refuge, as The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kampala released the hotline for Consular assistance for Ugandan Nationals in South Sudan +211928302044.
Since the fresh outbreak of clashes scores of South Sudanese have been rushing to Uganda seeking refugee. This is because Uganda has a reputation for peace in the East African region. According to the Mid-Year Trends 2015 report released by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Uganda is currently eighth in the world rankings when it comes to hosting refugees. Uganda, which is known for its hospitality, has received refugees from Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, Congo, Kenya and, of course, South Sudan.
Ugandans commiserate with the South Sudanese and are praying for peace to return the world’s youngest nation and the most recent entrant into the East African Community. However, we appeal to the two warring factions, Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, to cherish peace to halt further displacement of their people and avoid a possible genocide, and instead focus on the good governance of their country, nation- building and the stability of the East African region.
The Writer works for Uganda Media Centre