Multiple Identifications Fuel Insecurity on South Sudan-Uganda Border
South Sudan and Ugandan authorities have cited the rise in security concerns along their shared border, particularly in the towns of Kaya and Koboko, as being linked to multiple citizenship and identification issues within their respective countries. The security issues encompass various criminal activities, including gun robbery, thefts, and burglaries. These issues have proven challenging for law enforcement agencies to address due to the ease with which criminals can cross the porous border after committing crimes.
Mr. Bosco Wani, the Executive Director of Morobu County in South Sudan, has stressed the need for collaborative efforts between the two states to address this security problem. He pointed out a significant challenge where individuals residing along the border cross to work in South Sudan using Ugandan identities but claim to be South Sudanese when facing difficulties, subsequently returning to Uganda as Ugandans.
To mitigate this issue, Mr. Wani suggested that citizens traveling between the two countries should be thoroughly identified at the border by local leaders and provided with permits, simplifying tracking and verification.
However, Mr. Emmy Mitala, the Resident District Commissioner of Koboko, acknowledges the complexity of the situation due to the district’s location, which features numerous porous border points. He mentioned that some individuals hold two to three identities—belonging to Uganda, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo—making it challenging to enforce certain measures. Furthermore, the common language shared by these countries adds to the difficulty of distinguishing individuals.
Some criminal groups operating along the border disguise themselves as South Sudanese refugees. According to Mr. Solomon Osakan, the Refugee Desk officer of Arua in the Office of the Prime Minister, dual citizenship is legally permitted in Uganda. To address this issue, he proposed running the data of National Identity cards alongside refugee identity cards to identify individuals with double registrations.
South Sudan Ambassador to Uganda, Mr. Simon Deng, called upon South Sudanese refugees in Uganda to maintain peaceful coexistence with Ugandan citizens. He emphasized that colonial boundaries should not be used to divide people but rather to their advantage.
In previous incidents, residents of Kenyibuli and Delambiance, located along the border in Koboko District, suffered losses of animals and food items due to organized criminal activities believed to be based in South Sudan. The question of compensating the victims remains uncertain, as South Sudan authorities claim these actions were carried out by the National Salvation Front (NAS) rebels with the aim of tarnishing South Sudan’s government’s image.