Gov’t suspends return of Ugandans stranded abroad

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Repatriation plan suspended: Ugandans stranded in UAE arrive at Entebbe Int. Airport on July 2. Courtesy Photo

The government has suspended the return of Ugandans who are stranded abroad. According to a statement released on Friday by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the country will not handle any new returnees after July 4, 2020.

The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Amb. Patrick Mugoya says that the return of Ugandans will resume after health officials have attended to those in quarantine centres.

“Accordingly, the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies that are caretaking the returnees have requested that we pause for a break in the arrivals for a period of approximately two weeks starting July 4,2020 so as to enable them efficiently manage the numbers that already in mandatory quarantine,”Mugoya’s communication to all heads of Uganda’s missions abroad dated July 3, 2020 reads in part.

The move according to the ministry is intended to control congestion in quarantine facilities. The Ministry of Health gazetted 37 quarantine centres in Kampala and Entebbe with a total capacity of 2,500 rooms.

It is estimated that around 1,500 returnees will be affected by the decision. These who will have to reschedule their travel are Ugandans from North America, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, China and Malaysia who were scheduled to arrive next week.

At the start of the return process of Ugandans and residents, the Ministry of Health had planned to have a total of 300 Ugandans return every two weeks. However, in a space of one week, more than 300 people have returned and filled up the quarantine centres.

“In this regard, you are advised to temporarily halt all repatriation flights that had been scheduled after July,4, 2020 and to wait for further guidance on when to resume.” Amb. mugoya said.

Those that have already returned are from South Africa, Turkey, India, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Italy and the United Arab Emirates. Today, Ugandans in New Dehli, India are expected to return. 13 of the returnees have so far tested positive for COVID-19.

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