September 3, 2013 (KAMPALA) – Ugandan police say they have put in place “extra security measures” to protect South Sudanese nationals and their property in the country.
The measures come after the government of South Sudan issued an order banning foreigners from driving motorcycle taxis commonly known as boda-boda.
The order has left about 1,600 Ugandans, who were operating in Juba and other parts of the country, jobless.
Many of the expelled Ugandans began returning home this past week, making the nearly 600-kilometre-long journey from Juba to Kampala by motorcycle.
The decision to ban the taxis has led to fears of retaliatory attacks on South Sudanese living in Uganda.
“We got security intelligence; we heard some people saying that since their children have been chased from South Sudan, the South Sudanese in Uganda should also be chased”, Patrick Onyango, the deputy spokesperson of the Ugandan police, told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.
“As a result of that we [the police] have come up with security measures to protect our brothers and sisters from South Sudan living in Uganda. We have communicated to all our units in the country to offer extra security to South Sudanese and their property in the country”, he added.
Despite the extra security precautions, the Ugandan police say they have not yet to record any incidents of South Sudanese nationals being attacked as a result of their government’s decision to expel Ugandans working in the country.
However, the South Sudan Embassy in Uganda on Friday last week posted a statement on its Facebook page, urging South Sudanese in Uganda to remain calm and report any threats they receive to the police.
“The embassy of the Republic of South Sudan in Kampala would like to advise all South Sudanes [sic] community members residing in Uganda to exercise calm and caution, following concerns about the attacks, harassments, threats and beatings of some South Sudanese residing in Uganda by some Ugandan nationals in retalion [sic] of the ministerial order iussued y [sic] the newly-appointed minister of interior of the Republic of South Sudan”, the embassy’s statement read in part.
The statement also urged South Sudanese nationals living in the country to refrain from any violence, report any threats made to their life to the police and avoid public places and travelling at night until the “situation normalise”’.
In April this year, Uganda’s inspector-general of police, Kale Kaihura, and his South Sudanese counterpart, Gen. Deng Tieng, met in the northern Ugandan town of Gulu to discuss the security concerns of Ugandan traders in South Sudan.
At the time, Tieng promised to address concerns raised by traders that they as Ugandans they were being subject to harassment and arbitrary arrests in South Sudan.
“We are making possible arrangements so that our city (Juba) becomes safe, not only for Ugandans but for all the people living there”, Deng said during the April meeting.
Onyango told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday that Ugandan police are in touch with their counterparts in South Sudan over concerns raised by nationals from both countries.
He stressed that attacks on Ugandans in South Sudan should be viewed as acts of individual criminal behaviour and not as thee policy of the South Sudanese government.