Tense standoff continues as Ugandans still blocked from entering Rwanda

Rwanda now deploys army along its borders with Uganda
Ugandans are blocked entry in Rwanda through Gatuna

Kampala, Uganda | URN | Rwanda is still barring Ugandans from crossing into their country despite earlier declaring in a statement that it would reopen the borders on January 31 after a 3-year closure.

Ugandan travelers who tried to cross into Rwanda via Katuna border in Kabale and Chanika in Kisoro districts said they have been blocked by Rwandan authorities.

Rwanda, last week announced in a statement that the border will be re-open on Monday January 31, 2022. The border was closed on February 27, 2019, at the time, Rwanda President Paul Kagame accused Ugandan authorities of spying on Rwanda, abducting Rwandan citizens, and locking them up in non-designated areas, as well as hosting and facilitating dissidents who have declared war on the Kigali administration.

A security official at the border told our reporter on Monday 31st that despite the reopening announcement, there are still many unresolved glitches that Rwanda is yet to clear. 

According to an official who requested anonymity, Rwandan nationals are still being blocked from crossing to Uganda and Ugandans, are also still being blocked from crossing to Rwanda through Katuna and Chanika as has been for the last 3 years. Only those with Rwandan national identity cards are being allowed to cross to Rwanda from Uganda. The official says that Rwanda is yet to reveal the reasons behind this. 

Christine Tushabe, a Ugandan from Mubende district was found stuck at the border. She says that she had traveled to cross to Rwanda through Katuna border to accompany her relative for burial. 

Tushabe however says that despite having all the necessary requirements, she was told by Rwandan authorities that no Ugandan is supposed to cross into their country. Tushabe says she was told that only cargo trucks are allowed to cross through the Katuna and Chanika borders. 

Tushabe says that what is being published in media that the border is fully open is completely different from what is on the ground.

Sarafiina Nyiransengimana, a Rwandan from Mubende district says that she was cleared to cross to Rwanda to attend the burial of her mother in Kigali but others who were accompanying her have been blocked.

Nyiransengimana says that she is also still at the border wondering what will happen to Ugandans who have been blocked yet were accompanying her. Kisoro district chairman Abel Bizimana wonders why Rwanda is going against its own statements after claiming that it would reopen the borders today.

Uganda-Rwanda border reopens, but Ugandans still blocked from entering Rwanda

At around 11:30 am, Ugandan officials led by Abel Kagumire Commissioner for customs in charge of Katuna border and officials from the immigrations department at Katuna border held a closed-door meeting with Rwandan security authorities at the Rwandan border side of Gatuna. The meeting took about an hour.   

When asked what transpired in the meeting, Kagumire says that they were harmonizing on steps to follow while clearing the cargo trucks. Kagumire says that the meeting did involve discussions about why it is still not easy for Ugandans to freely cross to Rwanda like how it used to be.