More than 1,000 Ugandans who are stranded in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have decried delays in being repatriated and asked government to speed up the process.
The request comes after 32 Ugandans returned from Khartoum Sudan on Tuesday. An undisclosed number was also expected to arrive from the Netherlands at 11:30pm yesterday. The stranded Ugandans say their situation is worsening daily due to harsh living conditions they have been subjected to in the UAE.
Ms Jacinta Nanteza, one of the victims, in an online interaction on Monday night with the Ugandan Ambassador in UAE, Mr Zaake Wanume Kibedi, said they are facing severe hunger.
“We have lost our jobs, we are unable to feed ourselves and we want to go back home. Please understand, we are extremely desperate,” Ms Nanteza said.
In April, the UAE embassy issued a letter, asking all Ugandan nationals in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and other areas of the UAE to register and prepare to be repatriated. As of yesterday, government data showed that 1,337 Ugandans are stranded in UAE due to the lockdown and airport closures.
“On May 25, Cabinet approved the proposal by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to allow the return of Ugandans abroad. The Ministry of Health has finalised organising quarantine facilities and the only thing that has been pending is re-organising the airport to meet social distancing standards and related measures,” Mr Kibedi said.
The ambassador said the arrangement to repatriate them is at its final stage and should be complete by the end of this week.
“Evacuation flights to Entebbe should start anytime soon- most probably next week or there about. The process will be handled in phases of 300 people per flight every fortnight,” he said.
“Early next week, we should know of the exact date for the first flight and more details on procedure. Upon receiving this information, we shall communicate directly to the first group to be repatriated,” he added.
According to the ambassador, the selection of the 300 people per flight willl be based on the rule of first come first serve. He said they will follow the registration list starting with those that registered first and those in emergency situations such as pregnant women.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement that Daily Monitor saw yesterday said the arrival of Ugandans who were stranded abroad due to the Covid-19 pandemic is ongoing.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will receive them at the airport and thereafter have a press briefing on the commencement of the repatriation process of Ugandans who have been stranded abroad,” the statement read.
Coming home It is not clear when the Ugandans who are stuck in the various countries around the world will be returned into the country. The returnees are supposed to buy their own tickets and be quarantined for two weeks on arrival at their own cost.