South Sudan officials have said Uganda is a safe haven for rebels seeking to stabilize President Salva Kiir’s government in Juba.
Speaking during a meeting between Ugandan and South Sudan leaders in Magwi County, South Sudan on Friday, the Governor of Torit State in Eastern Equatorial Province, Mr Alberio Tobiolo Oromo, said many rebels are sneaking into Uganda disguised as refugees and regrouping in Kampala and other parts of the country with plans of attacking Juba.
“The intelligence information we have indicates that some suspected rebels are harboured in the refugee settlement in Uganda from where they coordinate their activities before intensifying attacks in South Sudan,” he told the Ugandan delegation led by the Lamwo Resident District Commissioner, Mr James Kidega.
Mr Oromo added that some of refugee settlements camps in Kiryandongo, Adjumani and Lamwo districts act as recruitment camps.
Without giving names, he cited one of the rebel leaders who he said is mobilizing and funding asylum seekers in Kampala and in refugee settlements in Adjumani, Kiryandongo and Lamwo districts to rebel against the South Sudan government.
Magwi County commissioner Bosco Ochola Oringa added that rebels from Uganda recently attacked the villages of Mugale, Paracelle, Adodi and Owiny Ki Bul inside South Sudan.
He also noted these same criminals are waylaying and ambushing travellers along the Nimule to Juba highway.
Mr Oringa said the invasions threaten to comprise the peace agreements signed between the warring South Sudan factions. Currently President Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar are engaged in negotiations to form a unity government and end several years of fighting.
The Friday meeting between Uganda and South Sudan leaders was intended to highlight security threats between the two countries. Several armed men have in recent years been raiding Ugandan villages neighbouring South Sudan, taking cattle and killing people.
RDC Kidega promised to liaise with Ugandan security agencies and government officials to investigate the reports but expressed worry that it would be difficult to apprehend refugees and asylum seekers since they are shielded by international law.
He also urged his South Sudan counterparts to control the illicit movement of small firearms, the persistent cross border livestock theft, illegal logging and inhumane treatment of Ugandan citizens in South Sudan.