Continued raids at the border with South Sudan have led Members of Parliament to criticise the Uganda People’s Defence Forces for failure to protect the lives and property of Ugandans living there.
The MPs concerns followed a statement presented to the House on Tuesday, 15 August 2023 by the Minister of State for Internal Affairs, Gen. David Muhoozi.
According to the statement, the UPDF has registered successes in recovering some heads of cattle from suspected South Sudanese raiders after incidences like the raid in Poburo village, Madi-Opei Sub-county.
Gen. Muhoozi said that the UPDF officers from Apirit detach recovered 17 heads of cattle and an additional 56 recovered by Waligo detach in Kodomero village, Nyimur Sub-county.
The statement also revealed that on 04 May 2023 at Lagaya village in Waligo Sub-county, suspected South. Sudanese raiders burnt seven huts, raided four bulls, and looted essential commodities.
However, it was Muhoozi’s revelation that insufficient deployment of the army and police at the border posts drew anger from some Members of Parliament.
Lamwo District Woman Member of Parliament, Hon. Nancy Acora expressed dismay at the endless diplomatic meetings that were being held with no action taken.
“On the 10 July, we lost four people killed in their gardens in Lamwo.
We have had several meetings with Brig. Gen. Katungi and it has not yielded fruits,” she said.
She revealed that Lamwo residents are no longer happy for hosting South Sudanese as refugees since the conflicts cannot be solved.
“People are angry and they wanted to burn down the refugee settlement. It has taken great efforts by leaders to calm down the situation and the government needs to urgently compensate families that have lost lives, deploy massively and solve the border disputes of Ngom Oromo once and for all,” she added.
Obongi County MP, Hon. George Bhoka Didisaid that ObongiDistrict experienced the same situation where South Sudanese threatened people. He requested the ministry to intensify local community defense mechanisms so that locals can defend themselves.
Rushenyi County MP, Hon. Naome Kabasharira queried if it was procedurally right that Ugandans continue to loose lives.
“Every time we are crying, should we continue hosting these people as refugees and having them remain in the EAC and yet they keep killing Ugandans?” she asked.
The Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa guided that it was wrong to bundle all South Sudanese as bad and urged the House to remain calm, pledging that government will work to protect Ugandans.
Gen. Muhoozi acknowledged the MPs’ concerns and committed to work proactively.
He emphasised that several diplomatic engagements and workshops have been organised between the Uganda security forces and South Sudanese leaders and that a memorandum of understanding between the RDCs of Lamwo and Kitgum and the commissioners of the counties of Magwi, Budi, and lkwoto on the south Sudan side has been signed.
This he said, is aimed at taming the escalating situation at the border.