Ugandans don’t want to leave Afghanistan – Gen Odongo

Wednesday September 01 2021
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Minister of Foreign Affairs Jeje Odongo (left) and deputy Henry Oryem Okello appear before the Foreign Affairs committee at Parliament yesterday. PHOTO/DAVID LUBOWA

By Arthur Arnold Wadero

The Foreign Affairs Minister, Gen Jeje Odongo, yesterday told Members of Parliament that despite efforts by the government to look for and evacuate Ugandans trapped in Afghanistan, a section of them are not willing to return.

Gen Odongo was responding to queries raised by legislators on the Foreign Affairs Committee in regard to foreign policy.

“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,” Gen Odongo said.

He added: “The evacuation of Ugandans is done voluntarily, we aren’t forcing anyone to leave Afghanistan.”

Gen Odongo said only three Ugandans were willing to be flown back to Uganda and government is making plans to jet them into the country.

He, however, said 10 Ugandans were evacuated by United Nations (UN) on flights bound for London, United Kingdom and six of these have since returned to Uganda.

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He also dismissed allegations that the Afghan asylum seekers, who were flown into the country, were accorded ‘special’ treatment.

“The evacuees underwent necessary screening including Covid checking [and] as I speak they are under quarantine.

They will remain in Uganda for their onward journey. These aren’t refugees but people on transit. The cost of providing for their needs is being met with US,” Gen Odongo said.

The lawmakers raised fears about the risks Uganda faces while hosting the Afghan asylum seekers in the country.

The minister said government had taken the necessary measures to ensure that the country is secure.
Relatedly, the Foreign Affairs junior minister, Mr Henry Oryem Okello, denied allegations that there was another group of Afghan evacuees expected to jet into the country.

After the legislators demanded government reveal the exact whereabouts of Mr Fred Kajubi alias Lumbuye, Gen Odongo confirmed that Lumbuye is still in Turkey. 

He further said once the discussions regarding the fate of Lumbuye are concluded, government would update Parliament on outcomes.

Ugandans in south sudan
Even when he admitted that a section of Ugandans were being tortured in South Sudan, Mr Odongo said there are no clear documentation that Ugandans had travelled to South Sudan for easy follow up by government.

“We have reached an understanding that a request of 90 days be given to ensure Ugandans stay peacefully,” he said.

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