General Jeje Odongo, Uganda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, has stated that despite calls to evacuate Ugandans stuck in Afghanistan, some of them have refused to leave the country.
On Wednesday, Odongo made the disclosure while testifying before Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, which was looking into numerous aspects of Uganda’s foreign policy.
The Minister informed the Committee that the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul on August 16th happened quickly, but that Uganda joined other 60 nations in urging the Taliban to guarantee the safe evacuation of residents.
He stated that Uganda is making every attempt to locate any other Ugandans in Afghanistan, and that they have discovered that some Ugandans in Afghanistan refuse to return.
“They simply claim that we’re fine and that we don’t want to leave, so we can’t make them leave.” Ugandans are being evacuated freely; no one is being forced to leave Afghanistan, according to Odongo.
There is no way of knowing how many Ugandans are in Afghanistan. However, Odongo claims that the United Nations (UN) evacuated ten Ugandans on aircraft to the United Kingdom (UK), six of whom landed in Uganda. He also claims that they discovered the presence of three more Ugandans who are willing to be evacuated, and that plans have been made to remove them.
One of the three Ugandans, according to Odongo, was evacuated by a US plane and is now in Berlin, Germany, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs apparently extending all necessary support to return him to Uganda.
Some Ugandans were evacuated in April 2020 during the COVID-19 worldwide lockdown, according to the Ministry of Gender, although it is unclear how many have stayed.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs also provided an update on the 51 Afghan nationals who arrived last week, stating that the request to host them was only temporary and that the group was quarantined as part of the Covid-19 containment efforts. He does say, however, that they do not sure how long the Afghan refugees will be remaining.
In response to inquiries about the location of Fred Lumbuye, who was purportedly deported to Uganda by security personnel, Odongo stated that Uganda, Turkey, and Interpol are currently discussing the case. He said he’ll update Parliament on the situation once the talks are finished, but that Lumbuye is still in Turkey.
Norah Bigirwa, the Buliisa district Woman MP, demanded an explanation from the Minister as to why the government has failed to issue travel documents in its foreign missions, prompting some Ugandans to flee their homes for fear of being jailed. Odongo attributed it to the government’s lack of technical capacity in procuring devices to create the electronic new passports.