Uganda is set to host over 2000 refugees and exiled Government officials from Afghanistan following the take-over of government by the Taliban militants last week.
According to Uganda’s Minister of State, for Relief, Disaster Preparedness, and Refugees, Mr. Davinia Anyakun this is on request of the US Government that asked Uganda to receive and play host to the hundreds of refugees fleeing the country amid unrest.
“We had a meeting last night as the ministry, together with the US officials, The UNHCR, Airport Officials and other stakeholders and we agreed on how to handle this,” the minister said.
Anyakun says the first batch of 500 refugees is expected to land at the Entebbe International Airport today, August 17, 2021.
Among the refugees expected in the country, she said, are exiled officials who were serving the now ousted Afghan government of President Ashraf Ghani, who has since fled the country.
“That is why at this moment I can’t confirm where all the refugees will be staying because some of them are actually diplomats and senior government officials who cannot be staying in refugee camps,” she said
“So, we have now secured some hotels in Entebbe, and upon arrival, we shall begin the process of screening to see who is who, and the diplomats will be staying in the hotels.”
The minister also revealed that the US government agreed to cater for all expenses of the refugees for the entire stay in the country, adding, “No Ugandan taxpayer money will be spent on this.”
The development comes hardly a day after U.S. President Joe Biden announced plans to evacuate their Afghan allies from the war-torn country.
“We’ll also continue to support the safe departure of civilian personnel — the civilian personnel of our Allies who are still serving in Afghanistan,” said Biden in a national address on Monday night.
“Operation Allies Refugee [Refuge], which I announced back in July, has already moved 2,000 Afghans who are eligible for Special Immigration Visas and their families to the United States,” he added.
“In the coming days, the U.S. military will provide assistance to move more SIV-eligible Afghans and their families out of Afghanistan,” said Biden without explaining where these people would be relocated.
He said U.S. was already expanding refugee access to cover other vulnerable Afghans who worked for their embassy: U.S. non-governmental agencies — or the U.S. non-governmental organizations; and Afghans who otherwise are at great risk; and U.S. news agencies.
Home to nearly 1.5 million refugees, Uganda is the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa and serves as a role model worldwide for the implementation of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) and the Global Compact on Refugees – a blueprint that calls for greater support for refugees and the countries and communities that welcome them.
Uganda’s progressive refugee model enables refugees to access social and community services like Ugandan citizens and improves access and quality of services for refugees and their hosts across the refugee hosting districts.
However, resources for the refugee response have been insufficient to address the increasing needs of a growing population. The outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020 and the lockdown measures to contain its spread posed additional challenges, exacerbating an already dire situation.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had significant impact on refugee lives, their means to earning income as well as education.