Washington DC: Over 276 Ugandans and Uganda residents and dependent pass holders on Friday July 17 safely left for Uganda as Government prioritises efforts to return its nationals.
The group departed Dulles International Airport, Washington, DC, on an Ethiopian Airlines flight – Friday – bound for Entebbe International Airport,.
The group was seen off by the Ambassador of Uganda to the USA, South America and the Caribbean, H.E. Mull Sebujja Katende who was flanked by Deputy Chief of Mission, Amb. Santa Mary Laker-Kinyera and Permanent Representative of Uganda to the United Nations, Amb. Adonia Ayebare.
A second group of 88 passengers will depart from Canada, South America and the Caribbean Saturday July 18 transiting in Addis Ababa and arrive in Entebbe on Sunday July 19.
The travellers from the US and Caribbean included Ugandans and legal residents and their dependents, affected by the March 23rd closure of Entebbe Airport due to COVID-19 concerns.
The majority of passengers are holders of US visitors visas, F1 and J1 student and research fellow visas and Ugandan resident permit holders who were unable to travel back to Uganda when the airport was closed. The Uganda Embassies in North America also registered a number of stranded Ugandans who had traveled for medical reasons.
Given the closure of numerous borders in both North and South America due to COVID-19 concerns and visa limitations of several of the affected persons it was necessary to create multiple departure locations, to ensure that everyone who could do so was afforded an opportunity to return.
Amb. Katende explained that the registration and repatriation process, though complex, due to the size of the area of accreditation, had been made possible by the seamless coordination and teamwork of the staff at the three Embassies of Uganda in Washington, DC, New York and Ottawa.
He paid tribute to his colleagues Amb. Adonia Ayebare (PR New York) and Amb. Jane Ruth Acheng (Ottawa), the management of Ethiopian Airlines and Mr. Mukesh Sahu of Satguru Travel Solutions for their tireless efforts to reach out and provide guidance to the stranded Ugandans.
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“I thank the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Health for putting in place clear guidelines and standard operating procedures to ensure that travellers do not just return to Uganda but ensured that they do so safely,” Amb. Ayebare commended.
Reports reaching this site indicate that the flight arrives at Entebbe on Saturday July 18.