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Ugandans don’t want to leave Afghanistan, says Foreign Minister

Wednesday September 01 2021
Afghanistan evacuation.

Passengers board a US Air Force plane at Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA), Afghanistan, August 24, 2021 during Afghanistan evacuations. PHOTO | DONALD R. ALLEN | US AIR FORCE | AFP

By DAILY MONITOR

Uganda's Foreign Affairs Minister has told legislators that despite government efforts to evacuate Ugandans trapped in Afghanistan, a section of them are not willing to return.

Gen Jeje Odongo was responding to foreign policy queries raised by legislators on Tuesday.

“We are making every effort to look out for any other Ugandan in Afghanistan and have established that there are also some who are unwilling to return. They simply say we are okay, we don’t want to leave,” he said.

“The evacuation of Ugandans is done voluntarily, we aren’t forcing anyone to leave Afghanistan,” he added.

Gen Odongo said that of the Ugandans his ministry found, only three were willing to be flown back home. He noted that his ministry is making arrangements to have them jetted back to the country.

However, he said, 10 Ugandans have already been evacuated by the United Nations (UN) on flights bound for London. Six of them, he said, have since returned to Uganda.

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He also dismissed allegations that Afghans brought to the country recently were accorded ‘special’ treatment.

“The evacuees underwent necessary screening including Covid-19 checking. As I speak, they are under quarantine. They will remain in Uganda for their onward journey. They aren’t refugees but people on transit. The cost of providing for their needs is being met by the US,” Gen Odongo said.

Ugandan MPs had raised fears about the risks Uganda faces while hosting the evacuated Afghans. But the minister said government had taken necessary measures to ensure that the country is secure.

Foreign Affairs junior minister, Mr Henry Oryem Okello, also denied allegations that there was another group of Afghan evacuees expected in the country.

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