‘Security of Ugandans in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is key’

‘Security of Ugandans in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is key’

<div>'Security of Ugandans in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is key’</div>

<div>'Security of Ugandans in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is key’</div>

The Committee on Foreign Affairs is concerned about the security of Ugandans and their businesses in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The Members of Parliament on the committee raised the concerns in a meeting with officials from Uganda’s Embassy in Kinshasha led by the Deputy Ambassador Frankman Matata Twaha on Tuesday, 11 April 2023.

Hon. Allan Atugonza (Indep., Buliisa County) said there have been rampant arbitrary arrests and detention of Ugandans living and working in the DRC.
“Has the Ambassador included costs in his budget for visits to prisons in Eastern Congo or follow-ups with consular services for Ugandans who are unrecognised in these prisons?” Atugonza asked.

Hon. Jennifer Muheesi (NRM, Kaazo District) tasked the Ambassador to clarify on the causes of insecurity against Ugandans in the DRC.
“What is causing the insecurity in the DRC and what is the Mission doing to help Ugandans who are suffering there?” said Muheesi.

Hon. Judith Achan (NRM, Nwoya District) said that some Ugandans sneak into neighbouring countries without requisite documentation or identification.
“There are Ugandans who are being harassed on the streets of DRC and at the border entry points. How do these people enter the DRC?” Achan queried.

The Deputy Chairperson of the Committee, Hon. Boaz Ninsiima said that security is a pertinent issue that ought to be addressed expeditiously.
“DRC is one of our big trade partners. We can request for more funding towards addressing insecurity or we can find a way as an Embassy, to prioritise this matter. We cannot leave it hanging,” Ninsiima said.

Edith Namutebi Nsubuga, the Accounting Officer at Uganda’s Embassy in Kinshasha said budget cuts have limited many of their activities, including providing consular services to Ugandans in DRC prisons.

Ambassador Matata said that official communication between the Embassy and the Government of DRC had been frozen for some time due to developments at its Eastern border with Uganda.
“This affected most of our activities, where you would write to ask for permission to pay consular visits but they would not respond. It has been a big challenge but now the communication lines are open,” Matata said.

He told the committee that many Ugandans misconstrued the political announcement that DRC was joining the EAC, and took it for granted that they could move without proper documentation.
“A telecommunication expert got a tourist visa from Uganda to go and work in Kinshasha. He was arrested near Matadi port, having been picked from his workstation with this visa. Paperwork is the biggest challenge we have,” he added.

He attributed 80 per cent of arrests in DRC to improper documentation, and said there is urgent need to sensitise people on the matter.
“Last month (March), seven Ugandans were released from prison through our efforts. The challenge is that some of these people cannot tell where they come from in Uganda because they are released in a bad condition,” Matata said.

She added that the services were included in the Embassy’s work plan but that they were not budgeted for in the funds released to the Embassy in Financial Year 2022/2023.
“Such services fall under governance and security but then 85 per cent of our budget goes to fixed expenses. That means we are left with only 15 per cent to handle the activities embedded in the work plan,” said Namutebi.

She added that much of the focus of the Mission’s activities is in Kinshasha and Goma, the latter which is the main trade route with Uganda.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Parliament of the Republic of Uganda.