Ugandans “stranded” in China are not willing to return Home –Foreign Affairs Ministry

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Uganda's state minister for Foreign Affairs Hon. Henry Okello Oryem; File Photo

Uganda’s ministry of Foreign Affairs has said that Ugandans in China are not among the list of citizens willing to return home after the country expressed readiness to receive its people who got stranded abroad following the COVID-19 outbreak.

On Tuesday 23rd June, government received 34 Ugandans from Sudan and another 16 who got stranded in Belgium and Netherlands following President Museveni’s pronouncement of a lockdown on the country on 23rd March 2020.

In a statement issued by state minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Henry Okello Oryem, Ugandans in China including Students who were trapped in Wuhan -the epicenter of coronavirus, are not among the 2392 persons on the ministry’s list of potential returnees.

Not even the Ugandans who were crying out to be evacuated in April when Chinese were mistreating Africans in Guangzhou, have registered to return home.

“You will recall the various calls for evacuation of Ugandans in Guangdong Province where the city of Guangzhou is located after reports that Africans were being harassed by the Chinese. The ministry working closely with African governments engaged the Chinese Authorities on the matter. This matter was quickly resolved through our joint effort and the feedback we are getting from many of these Ugandans in Guangzhou is that they are not part of the registered 2392 who are asking to be returned home” the statement reads in part.

He said the violence had arisen from a miscommunication among locals on how to handle foreigners in the control of the spread of coronavirus and many Ugandans have since returned to their work while the students have since resumed studies.

The matter was tabled in parliament and politicians weighed in calling for immediate evacuation of Ugandans from China which resulted in government sending funds to students for upkeep while in China.
Following the commencement of the returnee program, Oryem says other flights will soon follow from other regions while arrangements are being made to start receiving Ugandans across land borders.

He said, a work plan has been developed to allow the return of about 300 persons every fortnight and the arrivals started yesterday with 34 Ugandans returning from Sudan 16 from Belgium, Netherlands and Turkey.

He however stated that flights are arranged by Uganda’s embassies abroad, but returnees must pay for their travel back home. 70 Ugandans are expected in the county from South Africa, UAE (200), Afghanistan (108) , USA (134), India (120).

Okello Oryem said government took the decision to have all citizens distressed in foreign countries facilitated to return after the country after realizing the country had developed considerable capacity to control the spread of coronavirus.

He also noted that the MOFA is taking advantage of other flights coming to Uganda to evacuate foreign nationals, but some returnees are arranging for their own flights which government is clearing.

According to the standard guidelines from the ministry of health, returnees are required to undertake a PCR test for COVID-19 from their country of origin and be ready to go into a mandatory 14 day quarantine on arrival.

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