Uganda has sent more troops and military into South Sudan as the peace talks between the warring talks in Ethiopia are stalled.
On Thursday morning, sources said five Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) tanks were seen heading to the South Sudan border between the West Nile Nimule.
On Wednesday, the spokesman for the Machar side in Ethiopia, Brigadier General Lul Raui Kong, told the Guardian in an interview that Uganda has sent 1,200 troops to secure installations such as the airport and state house.
He also said the Ugandan military aircraft had bombed several rebel-held positions.
Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, the spokesperson of Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) who defended Uganda sending troops to South Sudan said it was on the request of President Salva Kiir.
He said President Museveni decided to send troops because there is need for a force to secure Juba since it is an entry point.
“We have a bi-lateral understanding with the government of Juba to act the way he are acting,” said Col Ankunda on Tuesday.
He also said whatever happens to our neighbors affects the whole region, so there is need to ensure there is security in all the regional countries.
“You don’t have to wait until people die to come in and rescue people immediately,” Col Ankunda said, adding that still UPDF is not a new force in South Sudan.
He said this after members of Parliament demanded answers from President Yoweri Museveni after deploying troops from the national army to South Sudan without seeking parliamentary authorization as enshrined in the constitution.
Speaking to the press on Wednesday, the South Sudan ambassador, Samuel Lominsuk also defended Uganda sending troops to Juba.
“Why is everyone focusing their attention on UPDF? Did the world want the situation to turn into complete genocide (before) any intervention?,” Lominsuk said.
“In Africa, what happens in one man’ house must be a concern for all the neighboring homes,” he added.
He also said his government, DRC and Uganda have a military agreement that allows UPDF to enter South Sudan to hunt for LRA rebels led by Joseph Kony, “which prompted UPDF to intervene and defend Uganda’s borders.”
“Even though not fully operationalised, Uganda’s intervention was also justified under the Inter Government Authority of Development (IGAD). So, I think the condemnations are just nonsense,” Lominsuk added.
Since the violence in South Sudan started don December 15, Uganda has been the most popular destination for the refugees, with almost 25,000 arrivals, said Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) Communications officer Catherine Ntabadde.
She said at least 3,249 South Sudanese crossed to Uganda through Elegu.
Ntabadde said the number of refugees in the country is forcing Uganda to open new camps.
Currently, Dzaipi Transit Centre has 19,866 refugees but more refugees are coming into the country.
However, if the new camps are open, Uganda will have the capacity to accommodate 50,000 refugees in the area.
“Already the teams are starting to survey and demarcate one of the camps,” Ntabadde added.