Ugandan Army Evacuates Citizens From S. Sudan

Ugandan Army Evacuates Citizens From S. SudanUgandan Army Evacuates Citizens From S. Sudan

A heavily armed Ugandan military convoy has crossed into South Sudan to evacuate citizens trapped by recent fighting in the capital, Juba, according to officials.

The operation comes a day after the United Nations warned of the possibility of fresh fighting in Juba, despite a two-day ceasefire that followed a major outbreak of violence, in which almost 300 people were killed.

The Ugandan Army convoy of around 50 lorries escorted by machine-gun-mounted armored vehicles crossed the border on Thursday at Nimule, some 200 km from Juba, to open up a secure corridor for fleeing civilians, Al Jazeera reported.

The entry of Ugandan forces into South Sudanese territory has been authorized by the government of President Salva Kiir.

“We plan to go to Juba to extract 3,000 Ugandans stranded by fighting, but that number may grow as we will evacuate anyone who wants to leave of any nationality,” said army chief Brigadier Leopold Kyanda to the AFP news agency.

“There may even be some South Sudanese who want to leave. Juba is totally peaceful and calm now and we do not expect any problems. The problems could be on the road where there are some few thugs. The first responsibility of any UPDF soldier is to protect himself and we are confident in this.”

Kyanda said the mission would probably last “two to three days”.

South Sudanese refugees who have been crossing from South Sudan into northern Uganda have complained that South Sudanese soldiers have been beating them, looting their property and some of them have been blocked from crossing.

The recent violence in the capital echoed the fighting that triggered the civil war and marks a fresh blow to last year’s deal to end the bitter conflict that began when President Kiir accused his deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup.