Uganda becomes 1st African country to host Afghan refugees
KAMPALA, Uganda (AA) – The first batch of evacuees from Afghanistan arrived in Uganda on Wednesday morning.
The first group of evacuees came aboard a private chartered flight and were received at Entebbe International Airport by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials and their counterparts from the US Embassy in Uganda.
“The United States expresses its appreciation to the Ugandan people for their generosity and hospitality toward these communities,” the US Embassy in Kampala said in a statement.
Uganda’s Foreign Ministry said the first batch has 51 people.
“The 51 evacuees who included men, women, and children underwent the necessary security screening as well as the mandatory COVID-19 testing and the required quarantine procedures,” the ministry said.
Ugandan officials said last week that at the US request, the country would shelter up to 2,000 people fleeing Afghanistan.
They will stay in hotels. Uganda will be used as a transit point before they are taken to a third country.
Uganda’s minister for relief, disaster preparedness, and refugees last week explained they are not refugees but “Afghans at risk”. Most of them are translators and government officials.
Escorted by the Ugandan police, the Afghan nationals were transported to Imperial Resort Beach Hotel, one of the five-star luxury hotels in Entebbe.
Journalists were not allowed by the security personnel to speak to the refugees.
Uganda’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs John Mulimba said that some of the Afghan refugees may be among those wanted by the Taliban so their privacy and safety are a priority.
Mulimba called on media houses to exercise confidentiality while reporting on the Afghan refugees in the country.
“You may photograph and publish photos of some of them wanted by the Taliban hence endangering their lives. So please be very careful,” he said.
After taking Kabul on Aug. 15, with the president and other top officials leaving Afghanistan, the Taliban announced a general amnesty for state employees, encouraged women to participate in its prospective government, and pledged that Afghan soil would not be a springboard for harming any country.
Currently, the US and allies are racing against time to complete the withdrawal of forces and stranded people by Aug. 31.
A landlocked country in East Africa, Uganda becomes the first African country to host Afghan refugees.
It is the largest refugee-hosting nation on the African continent and the fourth in the world, with over 1.5 million refugees.
The vast influx of refugees is due to several factors in Uganda’s neighboring countries, especially war and violence in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and associated economic crisis and political instability in the region.