Travel to Uganda unsafe in the future?

Jan 17th, 2009, 05:56 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2009
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Travel to Uganda unsafe in the future?

Hi -

I'm supposed to be studying in Uganda and Rwanda in Fall 2009, but with the recent LRA activity, I'm beginning to get nervous about safety in Uganda. This is obviously partly a question for the company I'm travelling with, but is there a chance that the fighting may spill over into Uganda in the near future? Will the DRC army return the violence in the Ugandan border? If you all were in my situation, would you consider trying to find another place to stay, or do you think that the violence would be contained in easily-avoidable areas?

I know none of this is predictable, but I'm just trying to get a few different sources for advice. Thanks for any replies.
zacata00 is offline  
Jan 18th, 2009, 05:30 AM
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As I understand it the flare up is in the north west. If you are headed to QE Nat Park, Bwindi etc, then I would continue with my travel plans.

mkhonzo is offline  
Jan 18th, 2009, 09:07 AM
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Nothing's for sure, but I will be in Uganda and Rwanda in August, not that far from the DRC border doing tourist activities and have not altered my plans.

Interestingly the US State Dept has warnings for Kenya but not Uganda/Rwanda. I wouldn't head into Burundi, though, which has a warning.

Enjoy your stay in Rwanda and Uganda.
atravelynn is offline  
Jan 19th, 2009, 01:08 PM
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Are you going to be studying in Kampala (Makerere University?) and Kigali?

If so, and if you are studying a subject that is not related to relief/development work, then you will be in very little danger of encountering the LRA, in my opinion.

I spent a month in northern Uganda last year and worked in areas where the LRA frequently operated in the past. I felt about as safe there as anywhere else I've traveled in Africa. I heard repeatedly that most of the LRA had moved on to DRC, South Sudan, and even the Central African Republic, where it is supposedly easier to pillage the local populations there and not have to deal with the Ugandan army.

The recent LRA activity that you're hearing of is mainly a response of the joint military operations against them by the Ugandan, South Sudan, and DRC armies to root them out once and for all. I read of a Christmas LRA raid against a church/village in DRC; when I looked up the name of the village on Google Earth, it was located nearer to the DRC/Sudan border than the Ugandan border.

So, based on what I heard while I was there and what I've read, the LRA are not about to storm Kampala and overthrow the government. To me they are nothing but a semi-organized band of brutal thieves who have no wish to govern anyone. You should be safe from them in Kampala. I would guess that you'll never travel to their old haunts in the northwestern and north-central part of the country unless you are in the relief and development industry. If that is the case, you'll probably still be safe, but honestly you should be used to the possibility of conflict.

I have a friend who had lived in Kigali for the past 3 months--I have not heard anything from him to make me think that it would be unsafe to study there as well.
Gritty is offline  
Jan 19th, 2009, 01:14 PM
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My cousin is the director of a graduate program at Uganda Martyrs University in Nkozi, Uganda. He lives in Kampala and loves living there. He takes normal precautions, but has no issues with walking around by himself or driving on his motorbike the 84 KM between Kampala and Nkozi. He finds the people incredibly wonderful and warm. That being said, it is not without risks and there are areas of Uganda that there is danger--usually tribe against tribe. According to my cousin, those areas are easily avoidable.

At the end of the day, you need to feel comfortable. A trip where you are terrified is not a trip you want to be on. FYI, Internet is pretty sketchy, even in the university setting, so you might want to make sure you have a phone.
BostonHarbor is offline  
Jan 20th, 2009, 09:06 AM
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My son lived in Kampala for 13 months from July '07-august '08, and is there again now for 5 months. There are no problems in Kampala. He hadn't even heard of the latest unrest in the north, and he's a news freak - when he was there last year, he traveled to the north, to Gulu (?) where it used to be unsafe due to the LRA. But there was a "treaty" in effect then and I don't know if it's still in effect. I'd probably avoid the north, but Kampala - not a problem.
sf7307 is offline  
Jan 20th, 2009, 11:40 AM
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The program I am planning on doing is a "Post-Conflict Transformation" study based in Kampala and Gulu (Uganda), and Kigali and Butare (Rwanda). Because of recent news, I am wondering if they may cut out the two-week stay in Gulu. I suppose I will just keep watching the news and see how the situation develops.
zacata00 is offline  
Jan 20th, 2009, 04:34 PM
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Let's hope "Post-Conflict Transformation" is prophetic.
atravelynn is offline  
Jan 21st, 2009, 04:00 AM
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I think it's going to be hard to determine if the Gulu portion of your trip can be done until you are there.

You asked earlier what we would do if you were in my situation. If I were going, I would still plan to go to Gulu as the fighting is still all in the Congo and Gulu is probably the safest place in the area due to its size.

I do hope you get to go. The people in that area need a lot of help but are really hoping to put the past behind them and get on with life. As Lynn said, let's hope the current post-conflict situation does not revert back to its former state.
Gritty is offline  
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