Security at the border posts between Uganda and Rwanda has been beefed up to avert any criminality as the standoff between the two countries rages.
“We are intensifying our visibility at the border posts of Katuna, Cyanika and Mirama hills to curb such criminality from raging on since we are not sure of when the stand-off will end,” Police spokesperson Fred Enanga said during a weekly press briefing yesterday at Nagulu Police headquarters.
He said the Police had received intelligence reports that some criminals wanted to exploit the current situation at the border to commit crimes and cause insecurity. He said Uganda is not facing any threat, but the Police are only concerned about the security of Ugandan traders stuck with their perishable goods and are, therefore, providing security for the trucks.
Enanga cited a number of crimes on the rise, including looting of traders’ merchandise, vandalizing of vehicles and containers, as well as theft of fuel from Lorries.
“In fact we are concerned that many traders, especially those who deal in perishable goods, are making losses. Their goods are rotting. We have also advised traders to take their merchandise back to Kampala or to find alternative markets” he said.
Enanga reiterated the traders’ concerns over the abrupt closure of the border by the Rwanda authorities. He said the business community, especially in Kigezi sub-region, has been hit hard.
For the past five days, the Rwanda authorities have blocked products from Uganda from entering the country. Rwanda has also barred its citizens from crossing into Uganda. According to the Police, even students who attend both university and lower level education in Uganda have been barred by the Rwandan authorities.
Enanga dismissed, as untrue, the allegations by Rwanda minister of state for foreign affairs, Olivier Nduhungirehe, that over 40 Rwandan citizens were languishing in custody of Ugandan security agencies. He said Uganda, like any other country, arrests foreign nationals suspected of committing crimes.
The suspects are tried and either acquitted or convicted and sentenced. He said he was not aware of the list circulating on the social media, allegedly of the Rwandan nationals being detained in Uganda. Sensational debates Enanga expressed concern over sensational debates on social media and other mainstream media platforms in regards to the ongoing stand-off between Uganda and Rwanda.
He said the sensational messages are dangerous because even though they might not be based on offi cial and credible information from relevant people, they aggravate the situation. Enanga said Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has started monitoring the debates to ensure that journalists and the general public do not unnecessarily fuel the situation through false allegations.
Travel warning over the weekend, Rwanda Times newspaper quoted the Rwanda foreign affairs minister and Government spokesperson, Dr Richard Sezibera, as saying Rwandans should desist from travelling to Uganda because of safety concerns.
“We have advised Rwandans not to go to Uganda because we cannot guarantee their security,” Sezibera said.
He added that the issue of security of Rwandans in Uganda, “has been longstanding and so we are strongly advising those who do not have necessary business in Uganda not to (go there) until we can sort out this problem.”
“Rwandans have been harassed there, they are imprisoned with no consular access, some have been deported,” he said, adding that Rwandan authorities have raised these concerns with their Ugandan counterparts in vain.
Sezibera outlined Kigali’s three main complaints with Kampala:
l Continued harassment and arrests of Rwandan nationals
l Uganda offering a safe haven to terrorist groups that have committed crimes in Rwanda and are still bent on destabilising the country.
l Seizure of Rwandan exports.
According to Sezibera, “there are armed groups, individuals who head armed groups that are opposed to the Government of Rwanda and have a violent agenda towards Rwanda, who operate in Uganda.” Uganda has strongly dismissed the accusations as unfounded. Ugandanz Website has learnt that while some Ugandans have been cleared to enter Rwanda through the Mirima Hills border post, they are subjected to an unusually extensive body search and questioning as to the purpose of their visit to Rwanda.
A group of over 200 Uganda Catholic priests, nuns and faithful over the weekend travelled to Kibeho in Rwanda, where three girls reported visions of Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, in the early 1980s. The group went to receive the Statue of Virgin Mary at the Shrine of Our Lady of Kibeho.