Congolese authorities deny holding abducted Ugandan fishermen

Congo authorities deny holding abducted Ugandan fishermen
The two fishermen; Patrick Okumu and Jackson Owonda were arrested on allegations of fishing in the DRC territory, a common occurrence resulting from the absence of a clear boundary in the Lake which overlaps the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo

Fisheries Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have refuted allegations that they are still holding two Ugandan fishermen who were abducted from Lake Albert between July 16 and July 17.

The two fishermen; Patrick Okumu and Jackson Owonda were arrested on allegations of fishing in the DRC territory, a common occurrence resulting from the absence of a clear boundary in the Lake which overlaps the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

However, their disappearance has caused tension among members of the public in areas surrounding Lake Albert. Robert Mujuni, a fisherman at Kaiso landing site, there are fears that the abducted fishermen could have been killed since they have not heard from any of them since.

But in an interview with this publication from Tchomia landing site, Ngoma Dheve Seleste, the fisheries officer attached to Joo Landing Site in Bunia district Ituri province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) explains that the two fishermen were set free after landing at Joo Landing site and ordered to come back to Uganda in July.

Julius Hakiza, the Albertine region police spokesperson says security operatives in Uganda will compel their counterparts in Bunia district to produce the abducted Ugandan fishermen.

A number of armed groups have for the past year terrorized Ugandan fishermen near the landing sites of Kaiso, Kyehoro, Kijangi, Fofo Butiaba, Nkondo and Ndaiga in the sub-counties of Kabwoya, Buseruka, Kyangwali, Ndaiga and Butiaba in Hoima, Kagadi and Buliisa districts. They have stolen boats, engines and fishing nets and among others.

DRC government officials have always accused Ugandan fishermen of fishing on their waters while the Ugandan authorities also accuse Congolese government officials of carrying out patrols on Ugandan waters.

However, there is no marked border point in the Lake Albert waters and this has caused fishermen from Uganda and DRC to accuse each other of fishing beyond the borders of their home countries.

URN