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Influx of Armed South Sudan Refugees Worries ESO Boss

Joseph Ocwet, the Director-General ESO said there is recruitment of Ugandans in refugee settlements to fight the South Sudan war. He also said that hundreds of South Sudan refugees are in possession of guns from South Sudan.
Delegates pose for a group photo after a joint meeting of Uganda - South Sudan authorities on the international Ngomoromo border security in Lamwo district

Audio 2

The External Security Organisation (ESO) has said that the influx of South Sudan refugees is a serious national security threat to Uganda. 

Joseph Ocwet, the Director-General ESO said there is recruitment of Ugandans in refugee settlements to fight the South Sudan war. He also said that hundreds of South Sudan refugees are in possession of guns.

Ocwet made the statements on Wednesday while appearing before the Parliamentary committee on presidential affairs.

Ocwet told the committee chaired by Adjumani Woman MP Jessica Ababiku that the massive refugee influx and the huge number of South Sudanese refugees is the second major threat to Uganda after terrorism.

He says some refugees are armed with pistols and AK 47 guns, which in several cases have been used in murder in settlements and in communities.  He says ESO is working this together with other security agencies to try and address the situation. Ocwet says some people are already in custody.

  He says to combat the threat, they are adding deployment in refugee settlements and border posts. He hopes however that the threats should be neutralized in less than a year due to the promising unity in the two worrying parties in South Sudan.

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According to Ocwet, the stability of South Sudan needs to happen so that Uganda can reap economically but also be safe.

Jessica Ababiku says that there have been several cases of refugees in the settlement gunned down by several refugees, and there have been other several cases of insecurity in most refugee settlements.

She called on ESO to deploy more intelligence officers and ensure that Uganda remains safe and stable.

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There are over 800,000 South Sudanese refugees in Uganda. Most of the refugees fled since 2013 when fighting broke out between President Salvar Kiir and his First Vice President Riek Machar.