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EXCLUSIVE: Rwanda provides free food to citizens to stop them from crossing to Uganda

Rwandan and Ugandan presidents. Rwanda started providing food to citizens to stop them come to Uganda. (FILE PHOTO)

KIGALI – The government of Rwanda has started providing food to its citizens, especially those living near the Uganda border points, in a bid to prevent them from crossing to Uganda, PML Daily has learnt.

Rwanda has advised its citizens to avoid travelling to Uganda in what Kigali officials claim is to avoid harassment and imprisonment by Ugandan security officials. Whereas Kampala denies these claims, Rwanda has gone ahead to close its border points with restricted movement of people and goods allowed.

However, this website has obtained information that Kigali, aware that most of its citizens rely on Uganda for food, has resorted to giving them food items such as maize grain and beans in order to stop them from travelling there.

A Rwandan national, who on Monday risked his life and crossed to Uganda through Mirama stream that is located in Mirama Hills/Kagitumba on the Uganda-Rwanda border in Ntungamo District, told this website that he had to come to find more food to feed his family.

“Government is supplying us some food but it can’t be enough for our families. I swear if this goes on people will either commit suicide or many will be killed crossing to get food. My wife is sick and she can’t eat posho if they kill me crossing I would have died to save my wife at least,” the Rwandan national, who preferred anonymity, said.

The Rwandan added that the country has limited any further sale of agriculture produce within the country in a bid to create self-sustenance in this period of a diplomatic standoff with Uganda. Most of Rwanda soils are infertile to support agriculture, hence their citizens largely depend on Uganda for food ranging from grains to eggs and beef products.

An official of the immigration department at Mirama Hills border says there has been a drastic reduction in the number of people coming from Rwanda and those going there. This reporter spent at least 4 hours at the border on Monday but saw only four people being cleared to enter Uganda. However, there are many trucks still parked on the Ugandan side and on the Rwandan side parking yard awaiting clearance.

Mr Edwin Mugabe, a money changer at the border, says businessmen are making losses both in Uganda and across Rwanda as the people movement is restricted. He notes that since last Wednesday, there has not been a single Rwandan crossing the border to Uganda.

The Kafunjo- Mirama Town Council chairperson, Mr. James Turyahikayo Habineza, said the two governments need to resolve the impasse early if they think of the livelihoods of their citizens.

“Some Rwandan children are schooling here, others are getting food and health care; some of us have married women from there and our daughters are married there. We are indeed brothers and sisters, only separated by colonial borders. what if a relative dies now, and people have to travel from Rwanda to burry, won’t it be unfortunate to stop mourners?” he says.

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