By Robert Elema
The frequent cattle raids and abductions along the Uganda-South Sudan border is fueling conflict and insecurity between the two countries, authorities from the two countries have said.
During a joint cross-border security meeting at Jale border point in Kajokeji County, in South Sudan, at the weekend, the delegation from the two countries decried acts of the individuals they say are trying to destabilise peace at the border points.
Mr Moses Abajo, the chairperson of Kerwa Sub-county in Yumbe District, said due to the frequent disturbances and insecurity at the border, people are living in fear.
“Our people from Kerwa Sub-county (Uganda) have been displaced by the cattle raiders. The armed cattle raiders (South Sudanese) entered 6kms deep into Uganda where they raided many herds of cattle and abducted some people. Some have not yet returned,” he said during the meeting.
He said some of the abducted people escaped but two are still missing and the cattle raided are yet to be recovered.
Ms Caroline Angolere, the Yumbe Resident District Commissioner, said: “What is facilitating the cattle theft is the booming cattle trade between the two countries. There are a few elements along the border, especially in Kerwa, who engage in cattle trade. So they keep on stealing herds of cattle from one another and take them to the market.”
She added that there is need to enhance co-existence between the two countries so that they can trade freely and peacefully.
“We have issues of arms trafficking. In Yumbe, we have refugees who move in [Uganda] and out so in this process, they sneak in with firearms into the settlements and there is need to regulate it [the movement],” she added.
However, Mr Williams Anyama, the Moyo District chairperson, said: “We last registered an incident of cattle raiding in 2018 in Metu Sub-county, but as of now, we have not yet experienced another attack of similar nature in the area.”
“This has built confidence where we learned from the past experience that made us to put internal control system to address the issue. There is need to strengthen coordination among the security forces to stop the cattle raids at the border,” he added.
Mr Genesio Moro, the Minister for Local Government in Central Equatoria State, South Sudan, said Ugandans are claiming that the people of South Sudan are encroaching on their territory but the challenge of cattle raids is also in Uganda.
“Cattle raid is a big issue that has caused displacement. Our state government has taken up this matter seriously and the President of South Sudan has ordered people who had raided cattle from Ugandan side to return them,” he said.
Mr Emmanuel Adil, the Governor for Central Equatoria State in South Sudan, said the absence of local government structure on the South Sudan side has soured their relations with Uganda.
“The border clashes, land and border disputes, illegal logging, high rate of smuggling that happens along the border are derailing our progress. We need to identify those weak points and spoilers of our good reputations so that the resolutions that we have already made during our meetings in Koboko and Yei are implemented,” he said.