Fear As 5, 000 Ugandans Join Rebel Ranks In South Sudan, DRC
By Andrew Cohen Amvesi
A total of 5,000 Ugandans mainly from West Nile region have been recruited to join different rebel ranks in South Sudan and DR Congo, Hassan Caps Fungaroo, the Obongi County MP has said.
According to Fungaroo, also a member of the Parliamentary Committee of Defense and Security, 2,000 of the locals crossed to fight in DR Congo while the remaining 3,000 went to South Sudan.
While addressing a press conference at Arua Airfield in Arua town on Tuesday Fungaroo said some of the locals, who crossed to South Sudan, were recruited by South Sudan President Salvar Kiir.
“Majority of the recruits are from Adjumani district yet Moses Ali, the second deputy Prime Minister is a staunch NRM activist in the area. What did he do?” Fungaroo asked.
The MP observed that details of the recruitment exercise were tabled before President Yoweri Museveni by key West Nile stakeholders in a meeting at State House Entebbe on October 13, 2016.
Reports indicate that the President recently got concerned about intelligence information on the ongoing recruitment of locals to join rebel groups in South Sudan and DR Congo from the region, a reason he summoned the stakeholders for a meeting at his home.
The delegation of Ministers, MPs, LC5 Chairpersons, RDCs, Ex-Combatants and family members of prominent people from West Nile was led by General Moses Ali.
“We openly told the President in the meeting not to only open his eyes on Riek Marcher but on Salvar Kiir too because he is also recruiting locals from West Nile in to his forces,” Fungaroo said.
He said the recruitment exercise in West Nile region is also benefiting South Sudan government since its President is part of it.
“All eyes are on us because there are potential fighters in West Nile region. Our people have the potential of good soldiering and that is why people want them to be part of their forces,” Fungaroo said.
He added that it is the reason; most people from West Nile end up to be recruited as security guards in Iraqi, Syria and other parts of the Middle East.
“The skills our people can sell better are the skills of fighting and that should not be disputed by anybody,” Fungaroo remarked.
Fungaroo blamed the problem on what he termed as the marginalization of the people of West Nile in terms of job opportunities.
“Our people need to buy land, build or complete their houses and pay school fees. If there are no opportunities for jobs, why can’t they take on any offer to go and fight?” Fungaroo asked.
He said the only solution to the problem of the ongoing rebel recruitment in West Nile is for the President to provide job opportunities for the locals.
Fungaroo’s outburst came at the time security is grappling with solutions to the recent reports of 22 locals, who were recruited from Kochi Sub County in Yumbe district and taken to fight in South Sudan.
It was alleged that each local was given US$1, 000 (about shs3.3m) to join rebel ranks in South Sudan and one of them, who attempted to resist the offer was shot dead.
To date, the locals have not yet returned home and their whereabouts has remained a mystery to their relatives.