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Uganda Increases Troop Presence along South Sudan Border

  • Peter Clottey

In this handout image provided by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, Dec. 17, 2013, a United Nation soldier stands guard as civilians arrive at the UNMISS compound adjacent to Juba International Airport to take refuge.
Uganda has increased its troop presence along the border with South Sudan due to the deteriorating security situation there.

The violence has led to an upsurge in people trying to cross into Uganda says Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, spokesman for the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF).

Uganda temporarily closed its border with South Sudan following the violence there, but has since re-opened the border allowing traffic to flow “smoothly” from South Sudan, according to Ankunda.

He says there has not been any incidence of violence along the border with South Sudan after Uganda ended its temporary closure.

Ankunda says soldiers from the national army have been put on alert to prevent individuals or groups who he says might want to take advantage of the security situation in South Sudan to create chaos in Uganda.

“Uganda soldiers are there to defend our borders. We’ve been there under the circumstances we are not taking anything for granted. We don’t want wrong characters crossing into our country and causing havoc,” said Ankunda. “We are alert and the soldiers are on standby, traffic is flowing, fortunately the borders were open today so we are managing the situation.”

Ankunda said the increased troop presence along the border will enable the army to monitor and conduct surveillance along the 435 kilometer-long border with South Sudan.

The U.N. estimates that up to 500 people have been killed in four days of fighting in South Sudan.

Ankunda says some foreign nationals fleeing the violence have crossed the border into Uganda.

“Over 400 Kenyan citizens have crossed into Uganda, and several Uganda citizens are coming back home as a result of the situation. We have increased the flow of people from South Sudan into our country. About 1,400 people crossed the border today. They used buses [and] they were received at the border and they are back to Kampala,” said Ankunda.

He says Uganda has assured its citizens that the army has secured the border with South Sudan and on standby to prevent any violence on Ugandan soil.

“We will ensure that our side of the border is secure. We are working together with our embassy in South Sudan to extract our people who are still holed up there,” said Ankunda.

Foreign affairs spokesman Fred Opolot was quoted by the Daily Monitor Newspaper as saying Uganda temporarily closed its embassy in South Sudan and ordered the staff to seek refuge at UN offices due to the violence.

“It’s increasingly becoming difficult to communicate with our staff who have been told to seek sanctuary at the UN base. Those in the outskirts have been told to stay indoors,” said Opolot.
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