Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Gen Jeje Odongo has stated before the Parliament that in spite of government efforts to evacuate Ugandans trapped in Afghanistan, many of them are unwilling to return.
Gen Odongo, in response to foreign policy queries from legislators on Tuesday said, “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.”
“The evacuation of Ugandans is done voluntarily, we aren’t forcing anyone to leave Afghanistan,” he added.
Odongo said only three Ugandans agreed to be flown back home. He noted that his ministry is making arrangements to have them returned to the country.
He indicated that 10 Ugandans have already been evacuated by the United Nations (UN) on flights bound for London. Six of them have since returned to Uganda.
He also dismissed allegations that Afghans evacuees recently brought to the country 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 they were properly screened.
Foreign Affairs junior minister, Henry Oryem Okello dismissed allegations that there was another group of Afghan evacuees expected in the country.