Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Kitgum district security committee is pursuing a group of people who are allegedly luring Ugandan youths to engage in subversive activities against the South Sudan government.
Kitgum Resident District Commissioner William Komakech says that the impending hunt is intended to bring to book all persons who have reportedly duped unsuspecting victims through a syndicate job recruitment scam. He, however, declined to divulge details on the identities of the alleged rebel recruiters.
Komakech was speaking before a section of parents of Lagoro sub county whose sons recently returned after escaping from the hands of alleged rebel’s groups operating in the jungles of South Sudan.
He said that the Ugandan youths were duped with promises of being offered security jobs in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan-UNMISS, but their quest for the purported lucrative jobs only turned treacherous after they were forced into joining rebel groups in South Sudan.
According to Komakech this year alone, sixteen youths from Kitgum district have managed to escape from the hands of South Sudan rebel fighters.
But intelligence information indicates that eight other youths are still stuck in rebel camps. He says that Ugandan authorities are in consultation with their South Sudanese counterparts to ensure the youths are traced, rescued and repatriated.
Ronald Okot Okane, a resident of Lakwor village in Lagoro Sub County who was duped into the scam says they were unknowingly lured by a person, he declined to name, promising them a salary of USD 600 (2.2 million Shillings), per month, an offer he says was too lucrative to be rejected.
Okane says that arrangements were made for him and three of his colleagues to embark on the journey that started in February 2019. However, their excitement was short lived when their purported employer’s agent turned against them holding them hostage within the hinterlands of South Sudan. He then led them into the jungles of Pajok in Magwi County of the Eastern Equatorial state of South Sudan.
Okane says after spending over six hours trekking in the jungles at night, they were finally welcomed by a group of armed military personnel alleged to be members of a rebel faction affiliated to the South Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) who sent them for a weeklong rigorous military training in the areas of Atebe River in Magwi County.
Geoffrey Otim Opira, another survivor from Adinga village says upon completion of their military training, they were armed and deployed in separate rebel detachments where they managed to identify some Ugandan youths from the districts of Kitgum, Lamwo, Pader and Gulu.
He, however, narrates that after spending months in abject hunger, exhaustion and dehydration coupled with enormous challenges of adjusting to rebel life, they planned their escape in October.
William Komakech now calls on members of the public to implore their youthful relatives to denounce any temptation by suspicious persons who might move in the villages mobilizing unemployed youths to pursue employment opportunities in South Sudan.
He equally calls on members of the public to report such persons to the authority for immediate action.
The issue comes into the limelight following recent accusation labelled against the Ugandan government by the Governor of South Sudan Torit State Abiolo Tobiolo Oromo alleging that Ugandan youths are being persuaded into the South Sudan rebel group.
According to Tobiolo; the syndicate is being manifested by a section of Ugandan youths who are holding military ranks within the SPLA IO rebel faction who are allegedly persuading fellow youths with promises of decent remuneration.