Uganda Country Report
Corruption and crippling bureaucracy remain endemic problems in Uganda, with the embezzlement of public funds and solicitation of bribes widespread, including at top government levels. Poor infrastructure constrains the development of business in the country. Some obstacles, such as power generation and transport infrastructure, are also priority areas for development. However, the government will likely continue to struggle to fully meet its funding commitments in joint projects. In July 2016, the Competitiveness and Investment Climate Strategy Secretariat claimed that state regulatory requirements and burdens cost the private sector over USD200 million annually.
The same under-funding, corruption, and politicisation that has impaired the Ugandan police in combating increasing violent crime has likely also undermined past-improvements to counter-terrorism efforts. Western intelligence co-operation and a lack of local Islamist affiliates contribute to preventing successful large IED attacks , although Uganda's participation in the AMISOM mission means it remains an aspirational target for Al-Shabaab. Since its July 2010 attacks in Kampala, Al-Shabaab and its proxies have focused their attacks on neighbouring Kenya. There is an increased risk of attacks on security forces by 'traditional kingdom' militants in the southwest, and of armed raids into western Uganda by DRC-based militants, facilitated by growing co-operation with Ugandan criminal networks.
Crime has become a growing problem in Uganda during recent years. Rising violent crime compared to pre-2016 (mostly against locals but also affecting foreign expatriates) poses the greatest risk of death and injury in Uganda. Declining police efficacy in combating this is driven by chronic under-funding, corruption, and politicisation of the police. Crime risks, including armed robbery, murder, and kidnap for ransom (almost exclusively targeting locals), are particularly pronounced in Kampala, other urban and peripheral areas, the greater Masaka area in Central region, and along major highways. In November 2018, the Ugandan military announced it would deploy soldiers to guard businesses (especially Chinese-owned factories) after a spate of robberies, particularly in central Uganda. Increasing crime is likely the work of financially motivated criminal groups (rather than the "terrorists" the government frequently blames murders on), including demobilised "crime preventers" and former party militia members, with some collusion by security forces elements and use of security forces' uniforms and vehicles by criminals. Near the border with South Sudan (in northern Uganda), the easy availability of weapons and the porous nature of the frontier drive higher crime risks. In June 2019, Ugandan authorities arrested five South Sudanese nationals (whose weapons included a sub-machine gun) in Amuru district who had crossed the border and attempted to extort money from nearby sugar plantation workers. In March 2020, two police officers were arrested in Kampala while attempting to extort around USD66,000 from a business owner.
During 2017–18, more than 20 women were killed around Kampala following kidnappings (despite ransoms paid in some cases), and the police recorded 70 kidnappings nationally in the first five months of 2018. In August 2017, a 71-year-old German was shot dead during a house robbery near Jinja. In April 2019, a US tourist and her local guide were kidnapped by gunmen in Uganda's Queen Elizabeth National Park, before being retrieved by Ugandan authorities five days later from the nearby Democratic Republic of the Congo, likely after a ransom was paid. Eight suspects were subsequently arrested, with Ugandan authorities alleging their connection to a wider criminal network. In March 2020, Uganda People’s Defence Force soldiers killed three individuals (two of whom were police officers) who had trailed a taxi travelling from Entebbe airport to Kampala before stopping it and attempting to rob the international traveller inside.
According to the Ugandan police's annual crime report for 2018, which covers the 12-month period from January to December, 238,746 criminal cases were registered, a 5% decrease from 2017's 252,065 cases, which in turn was a 3% increase from 243,988 cases in 2016. According to the 2018 report, compared with 2017, there was an "increase in homicide, sex related crimes, break-ins, robbery, political/media crimes and narcotic cases". Of the 238,746 cases in 2018, only 73,035 were taken to court by the end of the year and there was a backlog of 90,763 cases carried over into 2019. The highest crime rates were recorded in Lira, Mbarara, Arua, Ntungamo, Katwe Division, Mpigi, Mbale, and Gulu districts.
According to the 2017 report, homicide cases increased by almost 4% and theft cases by almost 53%, compared with 2016. Of the 252,065 cases recorded during 2017, only 66,626 were taken to court by the end of the year and a backlog of 105,017 cases were carried over into 2018. The highest crime rates recorded were in Lira, Ntungamo, Mbarara, Mpigi, Mbale, and Gulu districts, and in the Kampala Metropolitan Area.
Military conflict with neighbouring states is unlikely. Sporadic violent incidents along the DRC-Ugandan border (particularly Lakes Albert and Edward) are probable, but are unlikely to escalate into wider conflict. Rwandan-Ugandan relations deteriorated during 2017, but summits attended by presidents Kagame and Museveni (most recently in February 2020) have indicated improving relations. The risk of localised fighting between Ugandan and Rwandan forces will remain very low as long as they are not both deployed into eastern DRC. A successful coup attempt in Uganda is unlikely, but security services cohesion and efficacy are slowly worsening, affected by President Museveni's strategy of fostering security-services rivalries to prevent threats to his rule emerging.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required if traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission and over one year of age.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Yellow Fever: A vaccine is available for children over the age of one year.
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
Meningococcal Meningitis: For prolonged stays, or in case your travels will put you in close contact with a local population affected by an epidemic of the disease (for children over the age of two years).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
Much of the country is vulnerable to flooding during the two rainy seasons (normally from March to May and October to November). The northeast of the country is particularly susceptible to flooding and there is a high risk of landslides in Bulecheke sub-county of Bududa district.
Road infrastructure in the country is often in a state of disrepair and the country reports high rates of traffic fatalities. Never travel by car at night, except on the Kampala-Entebbe road (e.g. to the airport), and exercise caution when doing so during the day. There is a risk of being violently attacked by surrounding crowds following a road accident; after a collision, remain in your vehicle and drive to a police station to report the incident.
Police checkpoints are common and may be used to extort bribes.
Public transportation should be avoided, including Matatu minibus taxis and Boda Boda motorcycle taxis, which are frequently involved in serious, and often fatal, road collisions. Foreigners have frequently been mugged while using Boda Bodas.
In the past several years, there have been several fatal ferry accidents on Lake Albert and Lake Victoria. Travelers are advised to ensure that they are using a reputable ferry company and to not board a ferry that seems overloaded or unseaworthy.
Uganda is located in a tropical zone but its climate is relatively temperate due to its high elevation. The hot season lasts from December until January, with temperatures higher in the north than in the south. There are two rainy seasons, from March until May and again from October until December.
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