By Melodie Mukansonera
Hundreds of Uganda that are scared of exposure to Covid-19 are stranded in the United States yet the Uganda Government has no plan to evacuate them. “These people are sick with worry about what will happen to them, yet Kampala has chosen to sit on its hands,” said a US based Ugandan confidentially.
The Ugandan Ambassador to the United States, Mull Sebujja Katende, was quoted giving statements that were a confirmation that hundreds of Ugandan nationals are in America, but with no plan by their government to help evacuate them. In recent times many neighbor countries to Uganda have evacuated their citizens and saved them from danger.
Privately Ugandans have been told that they are on their own. The Ugandan ambassador to Washington DC said that his office is overwhelmed by calls from helpless Ugandans appealing to be evacuated. The envoy disclosed that so far at least eight Ugandans have succumbed to the Coronavirus in the US, including a baby. “Ugandans need help. So far, we have registered 180 Ugandans who would like to be helped to return home and these data have been shared with Kampala with a recommendation that these people be repatriated,” said the envoy.
Currently, there are at least 180,000 Ugandans living in the United States.
Katende said that he was waiting for Kampala to come up with an evacuation plan so that he can report back to the stranded Ugandans.
On his part, Uganda’s President Museveni has previously said that he would not allow any Ugandan stranded abroad to return home, citing the fear that they would further spread the virus into the country. This caused an uproar, which escalated when a letter from Uganda’s Foreign Ministry, signed by the minister Sam Kutesa, leaked. It was authorizing clearance for a group of people that were discovered to have links to Uganda State House.
Enraged Ugandans took to social media to blast the Ugandan Government, very many saying this was “proof that the country has been hijacked by a very few!” But even when, following the uproar, a Uganda Cabinet meeting chaired by President Museveni resolved to schedule flights “for all Ugandans registered with embassies abroad that would want to return home”, the communication said all those that wanted to return “must pay for their own return tickets”.
“Those who can procure air tickets should do so and register with embassies such that they are linked to available flights,” emphasized the Minister of Health Jane Aceng.