Some of the Rwandan immigrants who crossed into Uganda recently after being expelled from Tanzania have been relocated by Police to Old Sango Bay airstrip despite protests by Rakai district leadership.
Over the weekend, Tanzania repatriated dozens of Rwandan immigrants who entered the country illegally and settled in Kagera region. However, about 1700 Rwandan immigrants fled into Uganda with more than 40,000 heads of cattle through Mutukula and Minziiro border points in Kakuuto Sub County in Rakai district.
They pitched camp in Kasanvu viilage near Mutukula border town. However, on Wednesday, Grace Turyagumanaawe, the Director of Operations Uganda Police Force rushed to the area and relocated some of the immigrants to Old Sango Bay airstrip in Lukoma village in Kakuuto sub county.
Turyagumanaawe says only registered immigrants have been allowed to relocate temporarily to the airstrip as government finds an alternative land to resettle them.
He explains that Kasanvu village, where the immigrants had settled lacks basic necessities such as water and toilets. Noah Sserunjogi,the Southern Region Police Spokesperson says that they took the decision to resettle the immigrants to prevent clashes with residents who had started accusing them of attempting to grab their land.
The relocation of the immigrants has not gone down well with leaders in Rakai district who instead want them deported to their country. Benon Mugabi, the Rakai LC V 5 Chairperson says that the influx of the immigrants has triggered tension, which is likely to culminate into conflicts. He says that they have also received reports that some of the immigrants are interahamwe militias who actively participated in the Rwanda genocide. Mugabi fears the influx of the Rwandan immigrants could lead to insecurity in the district, which is yet to recover from mystery murders.
Paul Wasswa Ssekyeewa, the Rakai district Speaker says the relocation of the Rwandan immigrants to Sango Bay Air strip will stall plans by government to redevelop it. He says government had indicated plans to rehabilitate the Air strip, which was bombed in the 1979 war against Idd Amin, the former head of state. Susan Namujju, a resident of Kakuuto wants police to investigate the Rwandan nationals for illegal gun possession. She claims that some of the immigrants are in possession of firearms, which has raised fear amongst residents.
Maxwell Ogwal, the Southern Region Police Commander who is also in Mutukula says he is not aware of any immigrant in possession of a firearm. He however says those found in possession of firearms will be arrested. 200 of the 400 Rwandan immigrants who have been relocated are children below 16 years of age.
Some of the children told local media in a mixture of Rwandese and Swahili that they were studying back in Tanzania before they were expelled. They expressed interest in enrolling for studies in Uganda but fear that they many not catch up with the local education system.