UGANDA: BISHOP CALLS FOR HUMANITARIAN AID TO RETURNEES FROM SOUTH SUDAN AS UPDF ENDS MISSION

Johnson-Gakumba

Anglican bishop of Northern Uganda Diocese appeals for Humanitarian assistance for people fleeing the South Sudan conflict into Uganda.

“The humanitarian situation at the Elegu border point is dire with people selling off their few belongings in order to transport themselves to Kampala and other destinations. There is no food, water, medicine nor shelter for the thousands who are crossing into Uganda on daily basis.”- Bishop Gakumba.

BIBIA-UGANDA: The people fleeing the violent conflict between South Sudan President Salva Kiir and his Vice President Dr. Riek Machar into neighboring Uganda are stranded and lack, food, water, medicine, shelter and transport to their various destinations including Kenya at the border point of Elegu.

Violence, which erupted in South Sudanese capital city, Juba, on July 8, 2016, claimed the life of at least 300 soldiers and civilians, sending panicking civilians fleeing into neighboring countries such as Uganda. President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda ordered the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) to go into South Sudan and evacuate Ugandans trapped in Juba on July 13, 2016; and, between July 15 and July 19, 2016, a total of 30,000 civilians (Ugandans and non-Ugandans) were evacuated

The Anglican Bishop Johnson Gakumba of Northern Uganda, who told the media during a press briefing from Bibia UPDF barracks on Wednesday July 20, 2016, that he felt so concerned about the conditions of the returnees when he visited first batch at Elegu border post on Friday, July 15, 2016. Bishop Gakumba was invited at Bibia barracks together with security officials, to offer prayers during a thanksgiving ceremony to welcome back home some 1211 soldiers who were deployed inside South Sudan to evacuate trapped Ugandans.

“The humanitarian situation at the Elegu border point is dire with people selling off their few belongings in order to transport themselves to Kampala and other destinations. There is no food, water, medicine nor shelter for the thousands who are crossing into Uganda on daily basis.”- Bishop Gakumba.

Bishop Gakumba, who describes the situation as emergency, said he came back to his See and mobilized some emergency relief items for the returnees; such as medical staff to provide services, some 77 cartons of mineral water and energy biscuits as a token of support to the returnees.

“I felt very concerned when I learnt that the first batch on returnees had arrived in Uganda safely and I came to assess their conditions. The gladly appreciated the assistance. This is emergency humanitarian situation that requires every Ugandans”, says the Bishop.

Bishop Gakumba appealed to the religious leaders of South Sudan to borrow a leaf from Acholi Religious Leaders who got united and eventually brought peace to northern Uganda through dialogue and not war.

“I appeal to religious leaders of South Sudan to contact us on how best we can mediate. They have our contacts. The guns will never bring peace. You should give dialogue a chance”, says Bishop Gakumba.

No more deployment of UPDF under bilateral arrangements-Army

In a related development, Maj. Gen. David Muhoozi, who is the Commander of Land Forces of the UPDF, has clarified that there will be no more deployment of Uganda soldiers in Sudanese soil under bilateral arrangement as was the case in 2013.

In 2013, when the first conflict erupted between the two war lords, Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, Museveni sent in UPDF soldiers purportedly to rescue Ugandans trapped in Juba, but later turned into bilateral arrangements with one of the parties in the conflict on the side of President Kiir.

“The situation in 2013 was different because it was under bilateral agreement. This time round it will be no longer bilateral, except through the regional body (Inter-Governmental authority on Development) IGAD and African Union. This operation, which we ended yesterday was time-bound, mostly interested in evacuating those who were available but we were not prepared for 30,000 people”, says Muhoozi.

Maj. Gen. Muhoozi made the remarks as chief guest at the ceremony to welcome back home the UPDF soldiers who had just completed a six-day mission of evacuating Ugandans and other non-Ugandans from the South Sudanese town of Juba. He was addressing the media from Bibia barracks, which is located very close to the South Sudan border with Uganda on Wednesday, July 20, 2016.

He said the greatest challenges for the army now are welfare of soldiers in terms of decent accommodation for soldiers, building army referral hospitals, transforming the army from war-time soldiering to peace-time soldiering and fight against alcohol and substance abuse which has led some soldiers to turn their guns on civilians.

 

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