Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC have temporarily closed the border with Uganda in Nkuringo town council Bukimbiri constituency in western Uganda, which has sparked concerns of potential food shortage and other disruptions among Ugandans and Congolese at the border.
WHY? The closure took effect on Saturday, November 18, 2023, with officials from DRC at the Bunyagaro border in Nteko ward Nkuringo town council saying the directive came from the Bunyagaro Chief on the Congolese side. The chief accused Ugandan residents of allowing their livestock to graze on Congolese crops, and alleged violent conduct or brutality by Uganda People’s Defence Force -UPDF officers against Congolese nationals though these claims are being investigated by local authorities on both sides.
TENSION: The closure has triggered tension and distress among residents of villages, especially along the Uganda-Congo border who now call for Ugandan government intervention to address this unease.
Many locals depend on Congolese land for crop cultivation and the rearing of domestic animals such as cows and goats. The border closure coincides with the anticipated harvest of crops like beans, cassava, millet, and sweet potatoes, intensifying fears of food shortage if the diplomatic issues between the governments of Uganda and Congo are not swiftly resolved. Locals’ voices.
Thomas Munyakarago, a local leader in Bunyagaro on the DRC has side expressed the prolonged concerns of Congolese nationals whose gardens have allegedly been damaged by Ugandan livestock. He cited difficulties in holding responsible individuals accountable for fines. Thomas’s voice.
Habumugisha Samuel, a Congolese immigration officer says the reasons for the border closure are political and require intervention from higher authorities in both governments. He noted that attempts by Congolese authorities to engage their Ugandan counterparts have been in vain.
Ugandan authorities have not yet responded, but a UPDF soldier stationed in Nteko who preferred anonymity dismissed Congolese accusations, saying they might be attempting to delay Ugandans from harvesting their crops, and the Bunyagaro border has not been officially gazetted as a border by both Uganda and DR Congo.