Uganda will not abandon its Somali brothers and sisters, even if terrorists who hit Uganda on July 11, 2010 and those threatening to hit her are based in Somalia. Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni said, “Not all Somali people are bad. It is only those involved in terrorism activities who are bad.”
Addressing a press conference in the eastern town of Jinja, Museveni said, “The policy of Uganda is not to succumb to wrong ideas. We always stand for the truth. And the truth is that most Somali are lovers of peace. After the World Cup tournament bomb blasts that rocked Kampala, Al Shabab wrongly believed that Ugandans would abandon their Somali brothers and sisters. But they did not.”
Uganda hosts over 20,000 Somali refugees. Some are living in refugee camps in western Uganda while others are living in different towns in the country. The rich Somali are involved in businesses including importing fuel into the country.
Museveni said that even after the suicide bombers’ killing of over 70 people in Kampala, Uganda’s army remained in Somalia.
He said, “Our troops are providing security and treatment to the Somalis, especially children and women who were losing their lives on account of curable diseases.”
Museveni mentioned that it would be a big mistake for Uganda or any African country to succumb to terrorism. According to the president, the fact that Uganda is up to now still maintaining its troops in Somalia is an indicator that they are friends and allies of the suffering people of Somalia.
Museveni urged Ugandans to be vigilant, and always guard themselves against terrorists. He gave an example of the vigilance in Kenya which led to terrorists failing to kill many people as they had planned. Because of the thorough checking and vigilance of the bus operators at the bus terminal in Nairobi, the terrorist suspect was easily identified as he entered Kampala-bound bus.
The Ugandan president said that, nowadays, whenever Al Shabaab try to attack UPDF and Burundi troops in Somalia, they are thoroughly punished.
Museveni commended the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) Force for a job well done in the Horn of Africa country. The force, which was authorized by the United Nations in January 2007 and given the task of bringing an end to the civil war in Somalia that had been raging in the country since 1991, has done a good job, says Museveni.
Uganda police chief Kale Kayihura also recently warned Ugandans against viewing Somali refugees in Uganda as enemies. He said, “The Somali refugees in Uganda are here because of problems in their country. They are all not terrorists. In fact, they give us information on wrong elements among them.”
He said that even in the July 11 suicide bombings, one of the suicide bombers was a Kenyan, and those who aided the bombings were Ugandans.
But some Ugandans do not trust the Somalia, instead considering them a security threat. Ammoti Chali, 49, a trader in Kampala said, “Whenever I look at Somali nationals in Kampala, I remember the July 11th bomb blasts and get threatened that so long as Somali people are living among us, such incidents will happen again.”
But a Somali refugee, Kassim Abbas, 56, living in Kampala said, “We ran away from Somalia because Al Shabab were killing us for not supporting them. We are peace loving people. In fact, if peace returns in Somalia we are ready to go back. I, for one, don’t enjoy living in exile.”