Tension as South Sudan claims, forcefully occupies territory on Uganda soil

Tension is building up among Ugandans residing along the Uganda-South Sudan border after South Sudanese authorities claimed ownership of more than 20 villages in Kerwa and Kochi sub-counties in Yumbe district.

The most affected households are in Kaboro A, Keriwa, Kaboro B, Tiria, Sokokobidri, Pasara, Junjubita, Mafuu, Ujuruko, Milia, Koloro, Woroworo, Oloko and Tinji villages all in Kerwa sub-county.

Meanwhile, in Kochi sub-county, the villages that are being claimed by South Sudanese authorities include Fitina Mbaya, Alema, Milia, Feyo, and Gobiri. James Gale, LC III vice chairperson for Kerwa sub-county explains that over the past few months, South Sudanese authorities have been forcibly allocating land to their people in the affected villages, which are deep inside Ugandan territory.

According to Gale, the actions of the South Sudanese authorities have displaced several Ugandan households along the border. Rashid Kawawa Godson, LC III chairperson for Lori Sub County says that their preliminary findings indicate that the majority of the people the South Sudan authorities are settling in the disputed border are refugees from settlements in Uganda who run back to South Sudan over food shortages.

In July this year, United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) together with the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) announced food cuts and a prioritization strategy for the most vulnerable refugees in Uganda as needs outstrip resources. Jackson Amule, the Kerwa sub county councilor said that several Ugandans have decided to abandon their homes due to fear of being captured by the South Sudanese authorities.

Amule called upon the Ugandan government to engage their counterparts in South Sudan to resolve the border conflict, which he says is affecting the implementation of government programs like the Parish Development Model (PDM).

Yumbe District Woman MP Melisa Avako has appealed to the displaced residents to remain calm and pledged to table the matter on the floor of parliament for government intervention.

For a long time, the two countries have been embroiled in a dispute over the border stretching from Oraba in Koboko district to Lefori sub-county in Moyo district, which has led to displacement of several households and loss of property.

In 2009, President Yoweri Museveni and his Sudanese counterpart President Salva Kiir Mayardir met in Moyo district and agreed that farmers from both countries could utilize the vast virgin farmland along the border without any party claiming ownership of the land until the boundary between the two countries is redefined, which hasn’t been done. GOT A HOT STORY? CALL/TEXT/WHATSAPP 0777959024 OR EMAIL: redpeppertips@gmail.com WITH AS MUCH EVIDENCE AS POSSIBLE. SOURCE PROTECTION/CONFIDENTIALITY IS OUR NO.1 PRIORITY.

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