First group of Afghan evacuees arrive in Uganda amid heightened security

First group of Afghan evacuees arrive in Uganda amid heightened security
Uganda welcomes first group of Afghan evacuees

Kampala, Uganda | URN | Security at Entebbe airport and around hotels within Entebbe municipality has been heightened following the arrival of the first batch of 51 Afghan evacuees.

Normally, private security guards and two tourism police officers guard hotels in Entebbe town.

However, since Wednesday 25th, August 2021 morning, plain-clothed officers from the elite Special Forces Command (SFC) have deployed strategically at selected hotels such as Imperial Beach Resort Beach hotel where the first batch of 51 Afghan citizens are residing.

Other security officers have deployed around Imperial Apartments, Protea hotel, and Imperial Botanical Beach hotel. According to earlier, reports from Foreign Affairs Ministry officials, Uganda agreed to host 2,000 evacuees on the request from the US government.

Some of the officers have deployed along walkways at the arrival and departure sections of the airport while others are stationed at the entrance and waiting lounges of some hotels. What gives away most of the plain-clothed officers is the UPDF labeled face masks, security badges, and tags they are wearing.

However, some officers in uniform have also deployed at the main entrance of Entebbe airport and main access to hotels such as Pulikal Hotel, Airport View hotel, Imperial Apartments and Imperial Resort Beach hotel.

Hajji Mbabali Njuki, the deputy resident district commissioner for Entebbe municipality confirmed the heightened security deployment.

“Only that this time around, more security officers, mainly in plain clothes have been deployed at the airport and hotels to limit access to the evacuees,” he said.

According to Njuki, security agencies prepared for the arrival of more Afghan evacuees. He declined to name the specific hotels, which will host the distressed Afghan evacuees. 

Njuki was among the officials who witnessed the arrival of the first batch of 51 Afghan evacuees on Wednesday morning comprising women, men and children aboard Kam Air, which was privately chartered. After going through security and COVID-19 screening, the evacuees were taken to Imperial Beach Resort hotel.

Uganda welcomes first group of Afghan evacuees

Our reporter saw four SFC soldiers manning the main hotel entrance.

“The hotel is out of bounds,” one of the officers told this publication. However, upon further probing, the officer noted that the “hotel is fully occupied and is not admitting any more visitors.”

At Pulickal hotel, our reporter saw a police officer manning the main entrance. The managing director, Soubia Antony told this publication that they have not got any bookings to host the evacuees. “But I hope we get them because it will bring us business,” he said.

“The evacuees who included women, men and children underwent the necessary security screening as well as the mandatory COVID-19 testing and the required quarantine procedures,” reads a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

According to the statement, Ugandans who were expected to use the same flight couldn’t make it because of the challenges in accessing Kabul airport.

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“Whereas it had been arranged for some Ugandans to travel on the above flight, due to challenges of accessing the airport in Kabul, they were unable to make it. Arrangements are being made to bring them in the subsequent flight,” the statement said.

The arrival of the evacuees is in line with the US government request to Uganda to temporarily host at-risk Afghan nationals and other nationals in transit to the US and other destinations worldwide following the fall of Kabul to the Taliban.

According to earlier statements from the Foreign Affairs Ministry officials, the US government asked Uganda to host 2,000 refugees.