By Faith Nyasuguta
Some Ugandans trapped in Afghanistan have refused to be evacuated despite government efforts, the Ugandan Foreign Affairs Minister has told legislators.
Minister Gen Jeje Odongo was responding to foreign policy questions raised by legislators on Tuesday when he added that some Ugandans are not willing to return.
“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.
Odongo confirmed that of all the Ugandans his ministry had found in Afghanistan, only three were willing to be flown back home. The ministry is currently making plans for their evacuation.
So far, 10 Ugandans have been jetted out of Afghanistan by the United Nations (UN) on flights en route to London. Six of the 10 have already arrived in Uganda.
The minister further disregarded allegations that Afghans recently brought into the country were given ‘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 legislators had raised a red flag on the risks Uganda faces while hosting the evacuated Afghans.
However, the minister said that the government had taken all the required measures to ensure that the East African nation is secure.
Junior foreign affairs minister, Henry Oryem Okello, also dismissed allegations indicating that another group of Afghan evacuees was expected in the country.