US, UK warn citizens against attending Nyege Nyege festival in new terror alerts

Nyege Nyege festival

Revelers having fun in the rain during the 2015 Nyege Nyege festival. First staged in 2015, the globally touted Nyege Nyege Festival in Uganda is a four-day dance party and a major tourism drawcard.

Photo credit: File

What you need to know:

  • In the same alerts, UK and the US also cautioned their nationals of the new homosexuality laws in Uganda that could allegedly be used to target some of them. 
  • First staged in 2015, the globally touted Nyege Nyege Festival in Uganda is a four-day dance party and a major tourism drawcard.

The diplomatic missions of the United States of America and the United Kingdom have issued terror alerts warning their citizens not to travel to Jinja City, Uganda's wildlife national parks and to avoid crowded places.

The warnings come days before the start of Nyege Nyege, a four-day festival that attracts thousands of foreign and local tourists and other revellers to Jinja City.

The latest warning from the British High Commission, issued on Tuesday, said its nationals should not travel to Jinja City unless they have essential travel needs.

"The FCDO (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) advises against all but essential travel to Jinja town. There is an increasing threat of terrorism in Uganda, including the targeting of foreigners. Avoid large gatherings, including large religious services and music and cultural festivals in Uganda,' the statement reads in part.

On 17 October, British citizen David Barlow, his South African wife Emmaretia Geyer and their Ugandan tour guide Eric Alyai were shot dead in Queen Elizabeth National Park by suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels.

The UK government subsequently issued an alert advising its nationals not to visit wildlife centres in western Uganda.

An alert issued by the US mission in Uganda on Monday said its nationals should stay away from public gatherings in the East African country.

"Due to increased terrorist activity, the US Embassy in Kampala recommends that individuals exercise a heightened level of caution and reconsider attending upcoming large public gatherings, such as large church services and music and cultural festivals in Kampala and Jinja," the US alert reads in part.

"In addition, exercise caution when visiting places where people tend to congregate, such as hotels, shopping malls, and marketplaces."

On Monday, police spokesman Fred Enanga told journalists in Kampala that there were no known direct terrorist threats against the country "at the moment".

The Nyege Nyege festival is due to start in Jinja city this Thursday.

In the same alerts, the UK and US also warned their nationals about Uganda's new anti-homosexuality laws, which they said could be used to target some of them.

"On May 30, 2023, an anti-homosexuality law was enacted in Uganda. The act includes harsh prison sentences, and in some cases the death penalty, for same-sex sexual activity and also for supporting or promoting LGBTQ+ rights," the UK statement reads in part.