Rwandan civilians have continued to defy their government and are accessing Uganda to buy food, clothing and other necessities.
Sources say desperate citizens are using panya routes to cross the border into Uganda. The number of Rwandans entering Uganda in this way has in fact gone up despite the armed patrols by the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF).
Rwanda has for months now blocked its border with Uganda at Katuna and barred its citizens from travelling to Uganda. Rwandan authorities have since claimed the travel ban is for citizens’ security against what they called illegal arrests, harassment and torture in Uganda. The Ugandan government has continuously trashed claims by Rwanda, with government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo, saying Uganda has no problem with Rwandans.
But as the Rwandan government maintains the travel ban, citizens have found it unbearable since Uganda is a source of their livelihood and thus continue crossing over and piling pressure on their government to have the border issue with Uganda sorted. On the 14th of this month (April) Rwandan civilians killed a Local Defence Unit (LDU) soldier who tried to prevent them from accessing Uganda to buy food. The incident happened near Kitojo, East of Katuna border.
Earlier the residents had asked President Paul Kagame to have issues surrounding the Uganda-Rwanda border closure resolved. They claimed that the continued border closure had led to skyrocketing prices of basic commodities, salt, sugar and soap. In show of growing public hostility towards the Rwandan government over the border closure, recently, Kagame was publicly confronted by ordinary peasants when he visited Nyagatare district. The locals, mainly elderly people complained about hunger and starvation. Nyagatare is located in the North East of Rwanda and borders Uganda.