East Africa

IGAD backs UPDF return to S.Sudan-minister

SPLA soldiers drive in a truck in Juba December 21, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

SPLA soldiers drive in a truck in Juba December 21, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

Uganda State Minister for Foreign Affairs Okello Oryem has reiterated that the national troops would not deploy in South Sudan unless it is under auspices of regional blocs East African Community, Intergovernmental Authority on Development or United Nations.

“Last time, we were vilified,” he said on a local television Tuesday.

Appearing on KFM radio “Hot Seat” programme on Wednesday evening, Oryem acknowledged that Ugandans were still strapped in South Sudan as warring factions continue fighting.

He said the government Uganda has sent UPDF soldiers to rescue citizens under the mandate of the IGAD following a Monday meeting in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

Oryem said in 2013, when UPDF deployed to the capital Juba and secured key installations to facilitate evacuation of foreigners, the Ugandan parliament was not supportive.

He revealed that the national troops did a good job despite the negative criticism and would still do the same with the blessing of regional blocs.

IGAD ministers on Monday called for increased regional forces to secure the capital Juba that is now gripped by gunfire.

President Salva Kiir and his deputy Riek Machar have since called for a ceasefire amid calls for an arms embargo and sanctions by the international community.

Ugandans assemble to return home

Media reports indicate that an estimated 2000 Ugandans have assembled in Nisitu Town in South Sudan waiting to be evacuated by the Uganda People’s Defense Forces.

Government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo is quoted by Uganda Radio Network saying Ugandans have convened around Aruu junction and Gombo market following an announcement by government to evacuate Ugandans due to clashes in the South Sudan capital, Juba.

Several countries continue evacuating their nationals from the South Sudan capital, Juba, after days of renewed fighting by troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and his Deputy Riek Machar.

Nimule border closed

Meanwhile, thousands of South Sudan nationals remain stranded at Nimule border town after the government issued an order blocking air and land exits.

Troops have been deployed to block civilians fleeing the violence in Juba and other towns over the past few days.

Deng Mawien, a migration officer, is quoted by South Sudan based Radio Tamazuj saying that they have not received directives from higher authorities in Juba to release the so many people in Nimule waiting to cross to the other Ugandan side of border.

“Nimule is overcrowded. It is full. There is no house which is empty and there are no hotels which do not have customers. Some people are sleeping in the open, others in parking lots and others are fighting migration officers to cross,” Deng said.

He added that most of the people in Nimule are those escaping the weekend violence in Juba and skirmishes which broke out in Torit, Eastern Equatoria on Sunday and Monday.

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