Authorities in Rwanda have declared as illegal, Ugandans seeking work in their country as the small East African country deported two female Ugandan nationals over the same.
The two Ugandans identified as Birungi Monique, 25 and Kansiime Lillian, 26, both residents of Nyarutuntu Subcounty in Ntungamo district, were arrested on April 14 at Kibuye in Rwanda and later detained at Burera district in the Northern part of the country.
The duo would later on Sunday 18 April, 2021 at around 6pm be dumped at Katuna border post with a deportation note referring to them as ‘prohibited immigrants.’
“Take note that you are declared a prohibited immigrant in Rwanda within the meaning of Articles 12 and 15 of law 57/2018 of 13/08/2018 on Immigration and Emmigration in Rwanda,” reads the note by the Rwanda National Intelligence and Security Service.
The youthful female Ugandans who by press time had proceeded home in Ntungamo, were referred to as male in the note seen by this news website.
“I thought just as many Rwandans live and work in Uganda, I could also work in Rwanda but I was arrested. I am happy to be free from Rwanda security and to be back home,” Kansiime Lillian said when contacted by SoftPower News.
Kigali’s decision to deport Ugandans seeking work in Rwanda violates several treaties and agreements ratified by East African Community Member States that provide for free movement of persons, labor and services amongst themselves.
Rwandan authorities have in the past shot dead dozens of Ugandan traders who travel to their country for trade and visiting relatives. Many of these Ugandans are falsely accused of being smugglers. They have also shot Ugandan nationals within Uganda.
In January this year, a Ugandan, Teojen Ndagijimana, aged 26, was shot dead by Rwandan Defence force (RDF) in Kumugu Trading Centre in Musanze District inside Rwanda, about three kilometres from the Uganda border.
Other Ugandans who have been shot dead by Rwandan forces are Alex Nyesiga, 32, who was killed in May last year together with a Rwandan national as they entered Rwanda from Uganda.
On November 9, two other Ugandans Job Ebyarishanga and Bosco Tuheirwe, both residents of Rukiga District near the border, were shot dead about 1km inside Rwanda. Rwanda police later claimed the deceased were smuggling raw tobacco into the country.
The killed Ugandans and Rwandans are never tried by any Rwandan court of law but shot at.
It should be noted that Sunday’s developments happened amid the ongoing efforts to mend the relations between Kampala and Uganda.
Relations became frosty in February 2019 when Rwanda unilaterally closed its border with Uganda at Katuna in February last year, stopping movement of goods and people from either country. Goods perished as cargo trucks whose drivers and proprietors were unaware of the developments queued up on the Ugandan side of the border. Rwanda at the time claimed the closure was due to ongoing construction. President Kagame later said while communication had been made that he closed the border due to construction, the reasons were political. He would later bar Rwandan nationals from crossing to Uganda by road through Katuna border citing mistreatment in Uganda.
However, Rwandans who travel to Uganda by air from Kigali through Uganda’s Entebbe aiport are not stopped by the Rwandan authorities.
Ugandan authorities on the other hand said that while Rwandans are welcome to Uganda as always, the country will not tolerate comprising of its national security. A number of Rwandans were arrested inside the territory of Uganda and charged for kidnapping Rwandan refugees and asylum seekers and illegally repatriating them to Rwanda, among other security related charges.
Uganda hosts more than one million refugees including Rwandan refugees who have over the recent years left the country in thousands.
Uganda’s open-door policy to refugees is hailed by the United Nations (UN) as the most progressive in the world.