The diplomatic missions of both the United States of America and the United Kingdom have recently issued terror alerts, cautioning their citizens against traveling to specific areas in Uganda, including Jinja City and the country’s wildlife national parks. These warnings have been issued just days before the commencement of the Nyege Nyege festival, a four-day event that attracts a significant number of foreign and local tourists, as well as other attendees to Jinja City.
In Uganda, this festival has been a subject of controversy, with religious leaders, some lawmakers, and moralists often condemning it as an immoral gathering, an allegation that the event organizers strongly deny. The most recent alert from the UK High Commission, issued on Tuesday, advises its nationals to travel to Jinja City only if their journey is essential. The statement emphasizes a growing terror threat in Uganda, which includes the targeting of foreigners, and advises against large gatherings, including worship services and cultural festivals.
Furthermore, the UK government previously issued an alert after a tragic incident on October 17, in which a British citizen, David Barlow, his South African wife, Emmaretia Geyer, and their Ugandan tour guide, Eric Alyai, were fatally shot by suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels in Queen Elizabeth National Park. This led to the advice to avoid visiting wildlife centers in western Uganda.
Similarly, the US Mission in Uganda, in an alert issued on Monday, has urged its nationals to stay away from public gatherings in the East African nation due to heightened terrorist activity. The advisory recommends caution and reconsideration of attendance at large public gatherings, including worship services and cultural festivals in both Kampala and Jinja. Additionally, visitors are advised to be mindful when visiting places where people tend to gather, such as hotels, malls, and marketplaces.
It’s important to note that, as of Monday, the Ugandan police spokesperson, Fred Enanga, stated that there were no known direct terror threats against the country at that time.
In the same alerts, both the UK and the US have also cautioned their nationals about the new homosexuality laws in Uganda, which are believed to have the potential to be used against some individuals. These laws, enacted on May 30, 2023, include severe penalties, including the death penalty in certain cases, for same-sex sexual activity and the support or promotion of LGBT+ rights.