By Raymond Baguma
The Uganda Peoples’ Defense Forces (UPDF) has evacuated Ugandan civilians from the ongoing violence in South Sudan.
The civilians were evacuated from South Sudan’s capital, Juba and arrived at the Entebbe International Airport on Friday. More nationals are due to be flown in today (Saturday).
Ugandan soldiers have been deployed in Juba following a request by the country's government to help secure the city.
The first batch of special forces soldiers helped to secure the airport and assisted in the evacuation of Ugandan nationals from Juba, the scene of a week of fierce clashes between rival South Sudanese army units.
It was understood seven Ugandans were injured in the fighting, prompting the Ugandan government to make arrangements for their evacuation along with other nationals.
Foreign affairs ministry spokesperson, Fred Opolot, told journalists earlier on Friday that the injured and others who wanted to leave would be brought back home using UPDF helicopters.
Other countries were also evacuating their nationals, some through Uganda’s Entebbe Airport.
The injured were flown in with the group. PHOTO/AFP
Ugandan nationals were evacuated from Juba following fierce fighting. PHOTO/AFP
Opolot mentioned that stranded Ugandans in South Sudan can phone the following contacts for assistance: +211956771175, as well as landlines which are +211977113330 and +211955503330.
State minister of foreign affairs, Henry Okello Oryem is part of a delegation that flew to Juba on an African Union mission to get the warring parties into dialogue as a way of solving the crisis.
“The mission is urging all the parties in the current crisis in South Sudan without exception, to mobilise South Sudanese for calm, tolerance, patience, national unity and forgiveness and to refrain from any statements or utterances that may aggravate the situation,” said Opolot.
He said 128 vehicles including 15 buses arrived from South Sudan at the Elegu border post on the Ugandan side ferrying Ugandans, Kenyans, South Sudanese and other nationalities fleeing from the clashes.
Fighting erupted around the South Sudan capital Juba on Sunday night and has quickly spread to other parts of the country.
President Salva Kiir accuses his dismissed former vice president Riek Machar of leading a campaign to overthrow his government.
A team of mediators from the African Union said they held productive talks to end the clashes, according to Reuters.
“We had a very productive meeting with his Excellency President Salva Kiir and we will continue consultations," Adhanom, leader of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) delegation, told reporters in Juba on Friday.
(Additional reporting by Reuters)