Kandahar – Uganda is set to receive 2,000 refugees who have fled Afghanistan after Taliban militants took power on Sunday.
Reports indicate that the first batch of 500 Afghans was expected to arrive on Tuesday but a delay was registered with both the United States and Uganda government still in engagement.
The deal was agreed upon following a request from the US government, a government official confirmed.
Esther Anyakun, Uganda’s state minister for relief, disaster preparedness and refugees, says President Yoweri Museveni told her to make preparations to host 2,000 refugees from Afghanistan.
She says Uganda acted at the request of the United States government.
“They have requested us to host 2,000 refugees. We are expecting them to be brought in shifts of 500. So, UNHCR secured Imperial hotels in Entebbe as a transit centre for them to, first of all, arrive and be screened,” she said.
U.N. High Commission for Refugees Uganda representative Joel Boutroue also confirms the decision to receive the Afghan refugees.
“We welcome that of course. And again, the generosity of the Ugandan government. And what we are doing, is we are preparing in terms of, with the office of the Prime Minister receiving them at the airport, lodging them. And then there will be all this, screening, testing. And then we see the next step, depending on what, for example, the Ugandan government and maybe other governments, in particular, the U.S. government want to do, if ever they want to resettle them,” he said.
Thousands of Afghans are fleeing the country after Taliban fighters announced Sunday they had entered Kabul and took control of the presidential palace. President Ashraf Ghani left Afghanistan, reportedly saying he wanted to avoid bloodshed, signalling the end of a 20-year conflict.
Highly placed sources reveal that the US government is set to foot the cost of hosting the 2,000 Afghan refugees in Uganda.
Uganda has a long history of welcoming refugees – and is currently home to around 1.3 million people.
The East African nation has the largest number of refugees in any country in Africa – and the third-largest in the world.
The new Afghan arrivals will be tested for Covid-19 before they are sent to isolation centres, Ms Anyakun says.