Foreign affairs minister summoned to explain fate of Ugandans stranded abroad

MPs ask Kutesa to address exploitation of Ugandan workers abroad
Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa appearing before Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee.

Kampala, Uganda | URN | The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has directed the Minister of Foreign Affairs Sam Kutesa to present government’s position on the status of Ugandan students and workers stranded abroad due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Kadaga made reference to several letters from Ugandans outside the country crying out for help.

Her decision came after Anna Adeke, the National  Female Youth MP expressed concern about the several Ugandans including students that are currently stuck outside the country due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Adeke said that the Ugandans are currently living in dehumanizing situations and wondering why the government was not considering repatriating them.

Adeke appealed to the government to assure the stranded Ugandans and make arrangements for bringing them back home.

“We have close to 70 students stranded in United States of America. We have some people stranded even within East Africa, some are stranded in Tanzania, Rwanda and actually some of them who had work, their contracts of employment elapsed and it’s worrying nothing has been done,” said Adeke.

The Youth MP expressed worry that without repatriating the affected Ugandans, they remain at risk yet they are willing to return and undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine until deemed safe to join their families.

Gilbert Olanya, the Kilak South MP also said that the Paramount Chief of Acholi Rwot David Ochana was also stuck in London and needed to be helped by government to return home.

Kumi Woman MP Monica Amoding also reported to Parliament that several Ugandans who had gone to work in the United Arab Emirates-UAE are stranded and needed help from government.

“Over 35,000 Ugandans are working in UAE having been taken by different companies. When the lockdown started, many of them were given letters of redundancy….meaning that they nolonger have employment opportunities. Madam Speaker, many of them have been calling us and informing us about the situation they are living in,” Amoding narrated.

She added that majority of these people have now been camped together and only paid a salary of March, yet they were given up to April to return  to their country. However the borders remain closed to human traffic.

The MPs equally requested that the government arranges to bring back the stranded Ugandans.

“German, America and other countries have been seen taking back their citizens, why can’t Uganda do the same for her citizens who were caught up during this lock down?,” she asked.

Kadaga said that she had received several letters from Ugandans abroad about their worrying situation and sent them to the COVID-19 National Task Force.

Kadaga said that this was a serious matter and that the Minister of Foreign Affairs needs to explain whether there is a plan to bring people home or manage them from where they are.

Read Also: Gov’t to negotiate Visa extensions for Ugandans stuck abroad

Uganda’s Missions abroad have for the last few weeks been registering all Ugandans in different countries but with no clear information whether the process was to help repatriate them.

But while addressing the country weeks ago about the coronavirus lockdown, President Yoweri Museveni closed the airport and insisted that whoever is outside the country waits until the situation calms down. He however allowed foreigners within the country to exit but not to return until the pandemic is over.