20 Eritrean nationals rescued from suspected traffickers in Jinja

Jinja, (UG): The Police in Jinja District have rescued at least 20 Eritrean nationals from suspected traffickers who were transporting them in a commuter Taxi commonly known as Tube of Reg No. UBJ 751V.

The group consisting of 12 adult males, two women, four girls, and two boys reportedly boarded the taxi at Pallisa road stage in Mbale City on Friday night, August 25, 2023, driven by a male adult identified as Kiiza Muwada, 34.

When intercepted at the Nile Bridge in Jinja, Muwada stated that he was approached by one Sam Etyang, a resident of Tororo town in Tororo district for what he termed as a hot deal to transport Eritrean nationals from Mbale City to Kabalagala, an urban suburb in Kampala.

Kabalagala is known to be a popular residential and business centre for mostly Eritrean and Ethiopian Nationals in the country.

The group is reported to have traveled by road all the way from Eritrea to Kenya before hiring a taxi in Busia that took them via Tororo up to Mbale City. They then hired another taxi from Mbale city to the next destination of Kabalagala in Kampala, only to be intercepted at the new Jinja bridge.

Kiira regional police spokesperson SP James Mubi confirmed the development and said the taxi was intercepted at the new Jinja bridge upon subsequent interrogations and found out that the Eritrean nations were unable to avail any valid travel documents making their entry and stay in the country unlawful.

“At the time of the interception and subsequent interrogations up to now, they have not availed any valid travel documents making their entry and stay in the country unlawful,” Mubi said in a Sunday statement.

He added that the driver testified how the victims had to pay 30,000= each for the fifteen seats making a tune of 450,000= payable upon reaching Kabalagala safely.

“Kiira regional police command is working hand in hand with the Director of Citizenship and Immigration Control – Jinja regional office, UPDF intelligence arm to ascertain more facts leading to the arrest of all culprits involved in the unlawful activities,” SP Mubi added.

The taxi which was transporting the 20 Eritrean nationals

Among the 20 victims, twelve are male adults, and two female adults with one female adult being an expectant mother holding four months of pregnancy and the six are juveniles; (two boys and four girls). The eldest and the team leader is at the age of 43 and the Juveniles range from the age of twelve to seventeen.

The group is currently being accommodated at Source Gardens Hotel in Jinja city as thorough investigations continue while the driver Kiiza Mawada and the coordinator Sam Etyang are under custody to help police in investigations.

Mr Mubi has therefore called upon the Eritrean communities in Jinja and Kabalagala on how to support the possible deportation of these foreign nationals after undergoing thorough travel paperwork verifications.

He added that all sensitive government installations and public places have since been accorded tight security in the Kiira region and other areas as a result of terror threats.

“Security tightened at all vital government installations for instance the Jinja bridges (Railway, Old and New bridges), power stations, fuel deposits, hotels, schools, markets, parks, highways, etc due to terror threats,” Mubi assured.

In the month of early November 2021, five female Eritrean players escaped from Sunset Hotel in Jinja city during the CECAFA U20 championship. They testified doing so in search of greener pastures in the form of seeking employment and being accorded official refugee statuses among others.

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