Making Uganda's Porous Borders Safer

August 05, 2021

“He was shot at in the head, I think it was at close range. A situation like this threatens you a bit,” says a tearful Edward Nayebare as he recalls the night armed gold smugglers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) killed four of his Uganda border post colleagues.

“After an alert from one of the fishermen, my colleague went to check. He never returned. They [killed] him,” says Nayebare, 29, an immigration officer in Ntoroko, on the southern end of Lake Albert, in western Uganda.

Loyce Amanio, another immigration officer from Elegu on Uganda’s porous border with South Sudan, says many criminals are able to freely enter the country.  “They are armed, so you have to be really professional in the way you do your work.” 

Attacks by armed gangs are just one of the many challenges facing officers like Nayebare and Amanio. Their daily tasks serving border communities and dealing with numerous irregular border-crossing points require better skills, equipment and facilities to effectively secure hundreds of kilometres of Uganda’s border.

The country may be landlocked but on the shores of a choppy Lake Victoria. Recently, Nayebare, Amanio and nine other immigration officers joined special training sessions to help them with policing open waters on lakes and rivers.

“We are here to receive specialized maritime training to help us serve better,” Amanio says excitedly.