There is heightened security deployment along the Uganda-Rwanda border to curb the increasing cases of illegal immigrants and smuggling of livestock by Rwandan nationals.
On February 27, 2019, Rwanda closed its borders 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 continued crossing into Uganda illegally. Following the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, Uganda also raised restrictions against Rwanda nationals illegally crossing into Uganda. However, the Rwandan nationals have kept deaf ears and continued to cross to Uganda to smuggle food and local brew (waragi).
In recent weeks, Rwandan nationals introduced another venture of smuggling cattle to Uganda, which has raised many questions in security circles. The cattle are mostly smuggled into Uganda from the neighbouring districts of Gicumbi and Burera in the Northern Province of Rwanda.
Godfrey Nyakahuma, the Kabale Resident District Commissioner says that security authorities have resumed full-time deployment along the border because of the increased illegal entry by Rwandan nationals into Uganda with smuggled cattle.
Without revealing the number of cases registered, Nyakahuma says that as security, they have realized that the smuggled cattle exposes Uganda to a very big risk of transmitting livestock diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease from Rwanda to Uganda since they are not inspected.
Nyakahuma also says that security has embarked on community policing to make sure that Ugandan locals stop selling waragi to Rwandan nationals as a way of reducing contact and making them lose morale to cross to Uganda.
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 of Rwandan nationals has led to the increase of Covid-19 cases in the sub-counties near the border due to contact between Ugandans and Rwandans.
Moses Enyo, the officer in charge of Katuna border police station says that most illegal entrants are hidden by Ugandan traders inside their houses as they transact business especially waragi. He cites an example of Katuna town council and Kibuga sub-county.
Early this month, Major General Francis Takirwa, the Uganda Peoples Defence Force (UPDF) Second Division Commander told our reporter that on a daily basis, more than 20 illegal entrants are intercepted by security and deported at Mirama hills in Ntungamo district up to Ishasha in Kanungu district.