Uganda has heightened security along its border with Rwanda to reportedly curb the increasing cases of illegal immigrants and smuggling of livestock by Rwandan nationals.
On February 27, 2019, Rwanda closed its borders to Uganda following an advisory by Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame to his nationals against travelling to Uganda, saying their safety is not guaranteed. Kagame accused Ugandan authorities of abducting Rwandan citizens and locking them up in non-designated areas.
He also accused Uganda of hosting and facilitating dissidents especially from Rwanda National Congress (RNC) and the Democratic Forces for the liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), which have declared war on the Kigali government.
Despite the travel advisory, Rwandan nationals have continued crossing into Uganda. Following the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, Uganda further raised restrictions against Rwanda nationals illegally crossing into Uganda.
Officials at Uganda’s border district of Kabale say that Rwandan nationals have been smuggling cattle to Uganda in recent weeks, which has “raises eyebrows”. The cattle are reportedly from the Rwandan districts of Gicumbi and Burera in the Northern Province.
Officials from Rwanda are yet to comment on the matter.
Kabale Resident District Commissioner Godfrey Nyakahuma, says that security authorities have resumed full-time deployment of Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) and police along the border.
Nyakahuma says that they have realized that the smuggled cattle expose Uganda to a very big risk of transmitting livestock diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease from Rwanda.
Henry Kisembo, the Kigezi Region police field force unit (FFU) commander, says that Rwandan nationals connive with Ugandan cattle traders and Kabale district veterinary authorities to stealthily clear the cattle before they are sold in Kabale for slaughter and transportation to other districts.
Reuben Mutabazi, the Kabale district internal security officer, says that the illegal entry entrance of Rwandan nationals has led to the increase of Covid-19 cases in the sub-counties near the border due to contact between Ugandans with Rwandans.
Moses Enyo, the officer in charge of Katuna border police station, says that most illegal entrants are hidden by Ugandan traders by locking them inside their houses as they transact business. He cites an example of Katuna town council
Early this month, Maj Gen Francis Takirwa, the UPDF Second Division commander told our reporter that on a daily basis more than 20 illegal entrants are intercepted by security and deported from Mirama hills in Ntungamo district up to Ishasha in Kanungu district.