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They forget what they came for: Uganda's army in Sudan


Written by Mareike Schomerus


​Uganda's army, the Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF), has been operating on Sudanese territory since the late 1990s. From 2002 to 2006, a bilateral agreement between the governments in Khartoum and Kampala gave the Ugandan soldiers permission to conduct military operations in Southern Sudan to eliminate the Ugandan rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

Instead of conducting a successful operation against Uganda's most persistent rebels – who had withdrawn into Sudanese territory and acted as a proxy force in Sudan's civil war – the UPDF conducted a campaign of abuse against Sudanese civilians.

Drawing on extensive fieldwork conducted over several years, this article documents local experiences of a foreign army's involvement in the brutal Sudanese civil war. It outlines why continued operations of the UPDF outside their borders recreate the same problem they purport to be fighting: abuses of civilians. Since 2008, US military support for the UPDF mission against the LRA has called into question the viability of continued militarisation through an army that has committed widely documented human rights abuses. The foreign military has not brought peace to the region. Instead, it has made a peaceful environment less likely for residents of South Sudan.

Mareike Schomerus