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Congolese nationals continue flocking into Uganda despite border closure

DRC refugees line up to be screened against Ebola at Sebigoro Reception Center in Kikuube district . This is one of the few available legal entry points for Congolese into the Country through the Lake Albert waters.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT |  Congolese nationals have continued flocking Uganda through Lake Albert despite the border closure. In March last year, President, Yoweri Museveni closed Uganda’s border with the Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC as part of the measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.     

A joint security team comprising Uganda People’s Defense Forces-UPDF, Marine Police and Uganda Police Force-UPF has maintained presence on the borderline in Hoima, Buliisa, Kagadi, and Kikuube districts to prevent the Congolese nationals from entering Uganda.    

Despite the security presence along the Lake Albert shores, Congolese have continued entering Uganda. The Congolese come to Uganda to engage in transact business, fishing and farming among other things. Julius Hakiza, the Albertine Region Police Spokesperson, says intelligence reports show that many Congolese entered Uganda illegally through the porous borders in January and February.    

He says that most of the Congolese cross into Uganda under the cover of darkness and land on ungazetted landing sites, which makes it difficult for security to pursue them. Hakiza appeals to local leaders along the shores of Lake Albert to cooperate with security to control the Uganda-DRC border and also avail them information about the entry of the Congolese in their areas of jurisdiction. 

He says they don’t have sufficient manpower to guard all landing sites in the Albertine but they can work effectively with local leaders.  

James Mugenyi Mulindabura, the Kigorobya sub-county LC 5 Councilor in Hoima district faults security for conniving with some Congolese businessmen to allow them to enter and leave the country at their will. He wants the security personnel investigated and appropriate action taken against them for allowing Congolese to enter the country amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic.  

John Basiima, a resident of Nkondo landing site in Kikuube district, says at times the Congolese especially the business community enter the country during day under the watch of security officials. 

Fred Kaahwa, a fisherman at Butiaba landing site in Buliisa district, says the security officials deployed to guard the Uganda-DR Congo border are doing the reverse. 

Hakiza also confirms that they have received reports of bribery on Lake Albert shores. 

Alfred Onenchan, the second in Command at Kaiso Immigration offices in Hoima district, says they are unable to patrol all landing sites due to manpower gaps.  He says as a result, some Congolese Nationals use illegal landing sites to sneak into the country.     

In April 2020, leaders in Kikuube district faulted Security personnel at the border for aiding the illegal entry of Congolese businessmen into Uganda. 

They claimed that the officers deployed at Bugoma, Buhuka and Ssenyonjo Landing Sites in Kyangwali sub-county Kikuube district were conniving with rich Congolese businessmen to aide their illegal entry into Uganda.

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