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. No further details were immediately given on the evacuees’ identities.
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 5-star luxurious hotels in Entebbe.
Journalists were not allowed by the security personnel to speak to the refugees.
The US and allies are racing against time to complete the withdrawal of forces and stranded people by Aug. 31.
On Tuesday, the Taliban said no more Afghans will be allowed to leave the country, urging the crowds thronging the Kabul airport since the group’s takeover to return to their homes.
Foreign nationals, however, can continue to leave the country, Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid told a press conference.
The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan after taking Kabul on Aug. 15, with the president and other top officials leaving the country.
The unexpected power grab has triggered a rush to flee Afghanistan, including civilians who assisted foreign soldiers or groups and now fear Taliban retribution.
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.