The three-day evacuation operation managed to provide safe haven for Ugandans and the other nationals
The Commander of the Land Forces (CLF), Maj. Gen. David Muhoozi has attributed the successful evacuation of about 30,000 Ugandans and other nationals from the embattled South Sudan to commitment, hard work, perseverance and professionalism of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF).
He said the UPDF soldiers acted swiftly to the order made by President Yoweri Museveni who is the Commander-In-Chief to professionally accomplish the national and regional assignment within a time frame of only three hectic days.
Muhoozi was on Wednesday, from the 41st brigade at Bia-Bia near Elegu border point, over 100km on the Gulu-Juba Highway, Attiak sub-county, in Amuru district addressing a group of over 1,200 soldiers selected as a special force that successfully implemented the evacuation.
Muhoozi said the three-day evacuation operation that was carried out from the assembly points including Juba in South Sudan, the UPDF managed to provide safe haven for over 15,000 Ugandans and the other nationals to safely leave the war torn country.
The UPDF, police and immigration said over 48,000 people were evacuated by Tuesday.
“The evacuation was optional for Ugandans who wanted to be returned home by the help of the convoy. Many who decided to remain and carry on with their own businesses did not join the three day convoys. When they wish to return to Uganda, they will do it on their own means. Of course many non-Ugandans took the advantage of the UPDF evacuation and we did not block them off”, Muhoozi explained.
He responded to queries about delayed soldiers’ salaries and salary increments, few or worn-out military uniforms or fatigues that they would slowly be addressed according to the national budget allotted to the defence ministry and to the UPDF.
“At the moment, we are prioritizing the construction of modernized housing for the soldiers and military hospital for the army. The rest will come as they have been planned for”, said Muhoozi.
The Anglican bishop of the diocese of northern Uganda (DNU), Rt. Rev. Johnson Gakumba appealed to the South Sudanese President, Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Dr. Riek Machar to respect one another and accept to resolve the civil conflict from a round table for peace sake.
Gakumba, who chairs the clerics’ umbrella of Acholi Religious Leaders’ Peace Initiative (ARLPI) founded in 1998, said the neutral umbrella could be willing to help the two sides sit down and negotiate for a peaceful resolution of the conflict if they so wish.
“We as ARLPI shall be more than willing through our counterparts (religious leaders) in Juba, South Sudan to independently and neutrally as religious or spiritual leaders try to bring the two warring sides together. We could listen to them as we have done before by establishing a neutral negotiation ground for the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), fortunately brokered by Dr. Riek Machar and the government of Uganda with support from the entire world during which some agreements were reached, although the bigger peace pact was not signed”, said Gakumba.
He said the DNU delivered at least 70 cartons of bottled mineral water and cartons of biscuits as little contribution towards the emergent humanitarian crisis to the first batch of Ugandans who were evacuated on day one and received at the Elegu, at Nimule international border point, Attiak sub-county in Amuru district.