By Simon Abaho
Government has confirmed that Uganda will host over 2000 Afghan refugees on the request of the US government but said this would be on a temporary basis.
In a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the decision to host the refugees follows a request by US government that Uganda gladly welcomed.
“Upon receipt of the request from the government of the United States for assistance towards hosting some of the affected persons and because of Uganda’s long-standing history and tradition of hosting refugees and other persons in need, President Museveni expressed Uganda’s readiness to provide assistance,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday afternoon.
According to the statement, the assistance will include hosting the refugees temporarily in the current crisis.
The State Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Esther Anyakun had earlier said that the first batch of 500 Afghan refugees were supposed to arrive on Monday, August 16 but according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, negotiations over the matter are yet to be concluded.
“Discussions on this issue are still ongoing and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to provide updates as the situation develops and when the final decision has been reached.”
Uncertainty grew in Afghanistan after the Taliban Islamic group captured power they had lost 20 years ago after US troops overthrew the then government lead by Mullah Omar that was accused of hosting Al Quaeda terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden.
Uganda is currently home to over 1.5 million refugees from mostly neighboring countries including South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo who are running away from conflicts in their home countries.
The East African country which has been ranked on several occasions for having some of the most welcoming people in the world is second to Turkey(3.7 million) in hosting the largest number of refugees whereas on the African continent, Uganda leads.
President Museveni has on several occasions reiterated that Uganda will never close its doors to any refugees considering that some of the Ugandans were in the past refugees in some countries.
He says that by welcoming refugees, Uganda is paying back the debt incurred when other countries hosted Ugandans during the turbulent times that the country went through before his NRM government captured power in 1986.
The refugees in Uganda share most amenities including water and schools among others with the hosting communities, a policy that has been welcomed by many.