Police in Kasese district are holding nearly 50 Rwandan nationals who Wednesday illegally entered Uganda using three mini buses.
According to the Regional Police Commander for Rwenzori East, Mwesigye Vincent, they were arrested by Police while it (Police) conducted its normal patrol duties from Katungulu along Kasese-Mbarara road.
He says Police had initially arrested them for overloading since each minibus had about 20 passengers, only to discover later upon interrogation, that they were Rwandan citizens who had escaped from their country for greener pastures in Uganda.
“We intercepted about 44 people who are believed to be Rwandese because they have Rwandan national identity cards. Each Kamunye (minibus) was carrying more than 20 people, which is extremely unusual. When we stopped them upon verifying, we saw very many of them and they looked to be tired and from very far,” Mwesigye told SoftPower News in an interview on Friday.
“When we interviewed them, we discovered that they were Rwandese. We tried find out whether they had any valid documents or any other certified identity recognised under the Citizenship and Immigration Act, but we learnt that they didn’t have any”.
“We had to hold on. When we interviewed them further, they told us that they had entered Uganda through non-gazzetted entry points due to the blockage in their country from Rwandese accessing Uganda,” he added.
Asked for the reason given by the arrested Rwandan nationals for illegally crossing to Uganda, the Police commander said: “They told us they had come to work anywhere they would get work, but others said in tea plantations”.
“We were suspicious and called in the department responsible for that, and that is the Citizenship and Immigration Control Department who have now taken over the matter.”
By press time (Friday evening), they were being driven to the Katuna crossing point “where we suspect they entered from for further verification and where possible, to acquire proper travel documents.”
However, the fate of these Rwandans remains unclear, now that they are being handed over to the Rwandan authorities who themselves, had blocked them from traveling to Uganda.
Towards the end of February, over Ugandan 100 trucks loaded with cargo spent a week at Katuna after being denied entry to Rwanda.
Rwandan authorities said the closure of Katuna border was to allow works on customs infrastructure and advised heavy trucks to use alternative routes of Kagitumba and Mirama hills, but these border points had also been closed. However, most recently, President Paul Kagame admitted the closure of the border had nothing to do with works but was instead politically motivated.
Days after the borders were closed, the Kigali administration strongly advised Rwandans not to travel to Uganda saying they risked being arrested illegally, tortured and deported.
Rwandans would later be seen desperately using illegally channels to cross to Uganda, which prompted authorities in Rwanda to destroy those points.
Despite Rwanda’s accusations and blockage of her citizens from coming to Uganda, Kampala administration has not blocked them, saying her borders are open to every foreigner including Rwandans, as long as they use the prescribed procedures.
Uganda hosts more than a million refugees including many Rwandans. Uganda’s open door refugee policy has been hailed as the best in the world by the United Nations.