Afghan refugees

Uganda is still hosting Afghan asylum seekers, the Eagle Online has learnt. The revelation was made by Henry Oryem Okello, the State Minister for Foreign Affairs.

On 25 August 2021, Uganda received the first group of Afghan asylum seekers. The group comprised 51 evacuees including men, women, and children. Initially, the Afghans were meant to stay in Uganda for a period of three months however it is a year later, and the decision to have them relocated lies in the hands of the US government.

According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Afghans make up one of the largest refugee populations worldwide. There are 2.6 million registered Afghan refugees in the world, of which 2.2 million are registered in Iran and Pakistan. Another 3.5 million people are internally displaced, having fled their homes and searching for refuge within the country.

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“The Afghans are still in the country. We so far have less than 100 Afghans. We have not registered them as refugees, they are asylum seekers and they will soon be leaving the country,” Mr. Okello said adding that, “Uganda has not received any security threat from the Taliban despite hosting Afghan asylum seekers.”

The minister said the US government is accessing the security situation in Afghanistan and at the same time working on the program to have them relocated.

Due to its generosity and home to over 1.5 million refugees from South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi, and other countries, the Afghans can be registered in  Uganda as refugees and allocated to various settlements. About 93 percent of refugees live in settlements located in 12 districts of Uganda and most of those in the urban areas live in the Kampala district.

Esther Anyakun, the minister of State for Refugees said the Afghan evacuees in the country were mostly working with the toppled government.

“Uganda is temporarily hosting the Afghan refugees before they could be relocated by the US government. We are hosting them on request from the US government to His Excellency President Yoweri Museveni,” Ms. Anyakun said.

The refugee bills are catered for by the American government ever since they arrived in the country. Unlike other asylum seekers, the Afghans were not registered and allocated to refugee camps but instead are hosted in various hotels in Kampala.

Ms. Dorothy Nanyonga, the Information Assistant at the US Embassy in Kampala has since not responded to questions sent to her as she asked.  

In August 2021, the Taliban took over Afghanistan and declared victory after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country. The militants’ return to rule brought an end to almost 20 years of a US-led coalition’s presence in Afghanistan. Kabul was the last major city to fall to a Taliban offensive that began in July 2021.

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