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Security Stepped Up For UN Security Council Meetings

Travel news: Fortress Kampala

Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN  Oct 18, 2010

KAMPALA, Uganda (eTN) - Meetings last week in Kampala of the UN Security Council, which included UN and other western security chiefs, leading military brass of NATO countries, and a MDG (Millennium Development Goals) review panel, brought striking new features to Kampala, when motorists found some roads around the hotel district near the Serena, Imperial Royale, and Sheraton blocked off by military lorries, causing wide detours and substantial traffic jams during the rush-hour periods.

Said one visiting business associate of this correspondent: "I knew you told me Kampala is safe, but wow, I was not expecting this at all; we donā€™t have this level of security in Europe unless there is a big summit coming up, but I am not complaining."

Guests at these hotels were allowed through in their cabs and limousines but only after identifying their purpose to the deployed security personnel. At the gates and entrances, guests were still subjected to yet more checks, including their entire baggage, ostensibly to make sure no mischief was able to enter, as one operative put it to this correspondent while at the Kampala Sheraton Hotel.

The high-ranking UN and military visitors had come to Kampala to discuss the Somalia situation, among other issues on their agenda, with their Ugandan counterparts and President Museveni, since Uganda was the largest contributor of troops to the AU mission in Somalia, which is currently being reviewed with the aim of strengthening the troopsā€™ mandate and giving them more robust rules of engagement beyond pure self defense.

Uganda is also, until the end of the year, a rotating member of the UN Security Council and as such, an important partner for the global powers that be. In addition, Uganda is presently training a further 900 troops for deployment to Somalia by November, supported by the EU, and the visiting military chiefs acquainted themselves, according to media reports, on site with the status of these preparations. Notably, Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has also echoed a demand long voiced here by this correspondent, that Somalia must be subjected to a total air and sea embargo and blockade to keep supplies from reaching the Islamic militants and also to keep the ocean terrorists, aka pirates, marooned at land, or else risk to be intercepted and even fired upon when attempting to sneak out on to the open ocean and trying to hijack ships.

The stepped up of security in Kampala comes hot on the heels of reports that a group of German nationals were successfully targeted in an alleged Al Qaida training camp in Pakistan last week while another German national intent to joining the Somali terror group Al Shabab was nabbed at the Kenyan coast while trying to make his way across Kenya to the Somali border. This suspect was hunted for several days in a game of hide and seek with Kenyan security personnel combing the coastal strip for him. It is understood that the individual was immediately deported back to Germany where he is expected to be charged with offenses related to terrorism.

Hence, as there is no way of telling any longer who is who, security was generally stepped up in Uganda to ensure visitors and locals alike are safe and the few rumblings about excessive checks and paranoia at the check points are easier endured compared to the other scenario Kampala experienced a few months ago.

Travel news: Fortress Kampala
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