October 27, 2021

Tales of Uganda Deportees: COVID-19 Infected, Confiscated Monnies, Separated Families

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Finally home, but most with nothing

At around noon on Saturday, Ugandan authorities brought and left at the Kagitumba border 48 people including young children said to be Rwandans. They included 29 adult men, nine women and 10 children – some with their parents.

Uganda says those deported had entered its territory without official documentation and stayed their illegally. The Kampala government has been carrying out these deportations since 2019.

As they disembarked from Ugandan vehicles and moved to the Rwandan side for processing, The Chronicles has documented their ordeals. Everyone has own tale of the torture they endured in different military facilities. Most were arrested in Masaka, Gomba and Kalangala, all central Uganda regions with large Rwandan communities. Most had simply gone to find work, usually at invitation of a family member, friend or prospective marriage partner.

Among the deportees, 6 were found infected with COVID-19 and are currently in isolation at the Nyagatare hospital treatment center. Those who were negative are now the responsibility of the local authorities of the areas they hail. They have to be supported to get back on their feet since they have nothing with them.

Below are excepts –

NIYONKURU Obed, 31, hails from Kayonza district and had been living in Uganda since 1994. It means he left Rwanda aged 4 with other family members. He grew up in Nakivale refugee settlement located in southwest. He moved to Kampala in 2008 as a pianist with Barak and Blessing choir group. Niyonkuru was picked up May 23, this year by Ugandan military intelligence in Mengo, a Kampala suburb. Going through different facilities, he would eventually end up in high security Mbuya barracks up October 10. With no case on him, Niyonkuru was transferred in Mbarara police station where he was tagged as a prohibited immigrant. Following the arrest, Niyonkuru lost contact with family and property worth at least 63million Ugandan shillings (Rwf18m).

NYIRANSEKANAKUNZE Florence, 24, travelled to Uganda on December 27, 2018 via Gatuna border as she had got a training opportunity at a hair and fashion institute. She was living in Kansanga, a Kampala suburb. Nyiransekanakunze was arrested October 21 this year, as she was on her way returning to Rwanda. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and government measures in places, work had been scarce, so she opted to return home. Both Uganda and Rwanda borders are closed, like all other countries. But Nyiransekanakunze was determined to reach Rwandan border, hoping not to be turned back. Ugandan military which arrested her, transferred to Mbarara police station, of course after being moved through different facilities.

BYAMUNGU Irene, 24, hails from Rubavu district but crossed to Uganda in May via an ungazetted border area but in the Cyanika region. He did menial jobs for Ugandan homes, eventually ending up on Mukono district, about 30km east of Kampala. With COVID-19 impact, Byamungu decided to return to Rwanda, getting arrested on October 17 at military checkpoint. Moved to Mbarara police station, the soldiers ransacked him completely taking his 80,000 UG shillings (Rwf22,000).

DUSABEMARIYA Mediatrice, 36, together with her husband chose to relocate from Nyagatare district July 2013 to Bunyoro region in western Uganda. The husband had family there. But then on October 18, Dusabemariya opted to return home with their three children aged 12, 10 and 5 years. They were removed from a bus in Ntungamo district, transferred to Mbarara. Dusabemariya was charged in court and ordered for deportation. She was not tortured or beaten, and nothing was taken from her.

MUSABYIMANA Titie, 27, lived in Rusizi district before choosing to Uganda. He arrived there in October 2018, working in homes and farms, eventually ending up in Busia, a town on border with Kenya. He too, as a result of COVID-19, decided to come back to Rwanda. On his way on October 17 this year, Musabyimana was picked out from a bus with his wife and 2 children, and the bus was let to continue. They were moved to Mbarara police station, but after taking the few thousand shillings he had left on him. He would later be deported with his family.

MUKAMANA Louise, 17, was residing in Burera district and was helped by her brother to move via Cyanika border in late 2018. They lived in Muzinga, located in Mulago, a suburb of Kampala. However, on October 17, as she return to Rwanda, Ugandan soldiers removed her from the bus in Mbarara, taken to Mbarara police station. The teenager was charged in court, and had no deportation form when they were brought to border by Ugandan officials. However, Mukamana revealed that she was never tortured or beaten by soldiers or in incarceration.  

KAMANA Emmanuel, 34, was a pastor at Life church based in Nyagatare district when he relocated to Uganda in January 2019, settling in Ntungamo district which is a few kilometers from the border. In June of the same year, Kamana moved to Masaka, a region in central Uganda with a considerable Rwandan community. On August 12, Ugandan military patrol arrested him, accusing the pastor of being a Rwandan spy. He was moved through different military facilities, ending up in Makeneke barracks in Mbarara district. On the day of his arrest, the pastor had 4m UG shillings (Rwf 1.2m) cash, which was all taken by the soldiers.

DUSENGUMUREMYI Amani, 31, was living in Nyanza district before he opted to transfer to Uganda to look for work in April 2019. This was a month after the Rwanda-Uganda fight erupted into the open.  Dusengumuremyi linked up family and friends and was able to start small business in Masaka. Uganda soldiers picked him up on August 12 this year, spending 5 days inside the notorious Mbuya Barracks in Kampala. He was moved to Mbarara police station and declared a prohibited immigrant. When he was arrested, Dusengumuremyi had merchandise and cash worth 2.2m UG shillings (Rwf 629,000), which all lost.

TUYISHIME Yunusu, 29, lived in Nyanza district before choosing to find greener pastures in Uganda in January 2019, two months before the Uganda-Rwanda conflict went public. He settled in Masaka region. Coincidentally, he was also picked up on same day as Dusengumuremyi (above) on August 12. Tuyishime also spent 5 days in the Mbuya military barracks before being sent to Mbarara police station where he was categorized as prohibited immigrant. Back in Masaka, Tuyishime had managed to start small business, which has accumulated to 4m UG shillings (Rwf1.2m).

NDAGIJIMANA Mohamed, 24, was staying in Kigali working in a hair salon. He relocated to Uganda in early 2018, settling in Masaka where he worked different menial jobs before getting work in a hair salon. It is here he was arrested. Ndagijimama was arrested on same day the above two people. He spent same number days in Mbuya barracks before being transferred to Mbarara police station for deportation. He says he had 1m UG shillings (Rwf 286,000) which he had been saving. It was taken. 

NDAHAYO Samuel, 48, was living in Nyanza district before moving to Uganda in 2015. The journey was long, like many, settling in Gomba region, in central Uganda, also common with Rwandans. There he worked on farms of locals. Later, his wife and four sons joined him in Gomba. Ugandan military arrested him on June 18 this year, spending a day at Gomba barracks, then another 4 months at the Kampala-based Mbuya barracks. However, Ugandan authorities deported Ndahayo with just one of his sons. The rest of the family is still in Gomba. 

TUYISENGE Eriezel, 26, was a also residing in Nyanza district before going to Uganda on September 2017 to visit his parents who were settled in Gomba. Like Ndahayo (above), Tuyisenge a day after on June 18 this year, spent same amount of time in Gomba barracks and Mbuya barracks. When Tuyisenge arrived in Uganda, he chose to stay, working in the family’s small business. On the day of the arrest, the soldiers took some of the merchandise and cash valued at 5.1m UG shillings (Rwf 1.5m).  

BUTERA Eliphaz, 71, and his 18yr-old son were arrested in July also from Gomba region. They were both kept separately at the Mbuya barracks for 3 months. While the son remains there, Butera was moved to Mbarara police station for deportation. The wife and 6 children remain in Gomba. The elderly Butera relocated to Gomba from Rubavu district in northwest Rwanda on September 25, 2014. By his deportation, Butera had accumulated property worth 50m UG shillings (Rwf 14m). He now has start afresh.

MURAGIJIMANA Elizabeth, 27, was living in Musanze district, before relocating to Kalangala district of Uganda in mid 2018. She left Rwanda at the invitation of her Rwandan boyfriend who already lived there and got married. They were both deported in this weekend.

NDAYAMBAJE Narcisse, 25, moved from Rwanda’s Musanze district to Kalangala district in June 2018. He was arrested October 20 this year.

ERIYASA Englitare, 26, lived in Kayonza district before moving to Mubende district, western Uganda, in May this year, for work at the invitation of his sister who has lived there for sometime. Due to COVID-19, he couldn’t work and was returning to Rwanda when on October 15 when the bus he was traveling in was stopped in Mbarara at Ugandan military checkpoint. Eriyasa says he had 25,000 UG shillings cash (Rwf 7,000) with him, which was taken by the soldiers.

MUHIRE Jean Bosco, 24, hails from Gisagara district but was able cross into Uganda through and moved on to Mubende district as well in May. He was also arrested as he returned to Rwanda after failing to find work due to COVID-19. Muhire had 120,000 UG shillings cash (Rwf 33,700) with him which was seized by the soldiers.

NIYONSENGA Emmanuel is from Nyamasheke district, but moved to Uganda May this year, directly to Buikwe district on lake Victoria. The elder brother Kavamahanga Kalisa, who has lived there for many years, actually managed to obtain for him a Ugandan ID. But then, this October, they decided that Niyonsenga returns to Rwanda, and was arrested in Mbarara.

MANIRAFASHA Issaie, 23, left his wife in Burera district back in May 2019. He crossed to Uganda through an ungazetted border point and made his way to Kalangala district where he worked on local farms. Unlike other Rwandan deportees, Manirafasha was arrested by Ugandan police as he was returning to Rwanda around Mbarara on October 19 this year.

NTABANGANYIAMAN Donatien, 31, lived in Kirehe district when he decided to move to Uganda in 2018, and settled in Kyotera district, in central Uganda. There, with other colleagues, they began operating a bar. But then COVID-19 struck and bars have not been operating ever since. So with no work around, he decided to sell off his part of the bar and return home on October 14 this year. Ugandan soldiers arrested him that day, and took the 300,000 UG shillings (Rwf 85,000) cash on him.

GAKURU Edith, 33, left Nyagatare district in early 2019 through Kagitumba border to travel to Kakumiro district in western Uganda to visit her brothers who have lived there for sometime. On October 18 this month, Gakuru decided to return to Rwanda but was picked out of the bus with her baby in Ntungamo district by Ugandan soldiers. She was moved to Mbarara, charged in court over illegal stay and ordered for deportation. The 200,000 UG shillings (Rwf 57,000) which Gakuru had was taken by soldiers.

TUYISHIME J D’amour, 25, from Burera district, moved into Uganda in July 2019 and settled in Kiboga, central region also area with substantial Rwandan community. He worked different jobs including working on farms. On October 18, Ugandan soldiers arrested him as he travelled in bus headed back home to Rwanda. He charged in a Mbarara court over illegal entry and declared for deportation. He also says he was never tortured or beaten. The soldiers who arrested him didn’t take anything from him.

MUHOZA Ernestine, 22, was invited to travel to Busia, a border town with Kenya, to live with her boyfriend back in April 2019. Uganda soldiers arrested her from there, and transferred her through different facilities before ending up in Mbarara police station for deportation.

The young children among the 48 deported included:

UWASE Beatrice of 12yrs
BUSINGE Joselyn of 10yrs
MANZI David 05yrs
UWASE Benitha of 1.3 yr
TUYISHIME Jovanis of 01yr
CYUSA Moses of 09yrs
Patrick Joseph of 04yrs
CYAMAGERO of 02yrs
IGIRUBUNTU Phiona of 1.10yrs
UWABYEYI Gloria of 2.5yrs

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