Uganda raises concerns about armed South Sudanese refugees
Gaaniko Samson Jerry, Juba
The Ugandan Prime Minister's office has urged South Sudanese refugees in Arau district to stop entering local camps with firearms.
Solomon Osakan, senior settlement officer at the Ugandan Department of Refugees, made the remark during an interview with press following a briefing with a local Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF) commander.
It is alleged that refugees are crossing the border from South Sudan into Uganda with weapons and ammunition.
Osakan emphasised that in Uganda it is only state security officers who are permitted to bear arms. He asserted that any weapons entering the country from abroad must be declared at the border.
More specifically, the Minister made the point that entering the country with a weapon would disqualify individuals from attaining refugee status.
'Once you are in the refugee settlement, forget about your gun and the position your were holding. You are now a refugee’, he added
He argued that carrying weapons into refugee settlements caused more insecurity, perpetuating the conflicts that many had fled from in South Sudan.
A further warning was given by Osakan against refugees wearing UPDF uniforms and maintaining the military ranks from conflicts in South Sudan.
More generally, the Ugandan Prime Minister's office has urged all the refugees living in the Ugandan camps to follow local guidance and the decrees of the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHCR), since they are under protection of the UN law.
Uganda currently hosts approximately 1.2 million refugees, of which around 890,000 are from South Sudan. Situated in a number of camps along the border between the two countries, attempts are being made by government in Juba to allow for the safe return of its citizens.