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51 Afghan Evacuees Arrive in Uganda; More Expected


Afghan evacuees arrive at the Entebbe International Airport, in Entebbe, Uganda.
Afghan evacuees arrive at the Entebbe International Airport, in Entebbe, Uganda.

A plane carrying 51 people fleeing Taliban-controlled Afghanistan has landed in Uganda, where the evacuees have been granted temporary asylum, Uganda’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.

The ministry said the plane carrying 51 Afghan nationals, including men, women and children, landed Wednesday in Entebbe, where they were received by U.S. Ambassador to Uganda Natalie Brown. The evacuees were taken by bus convoy to a hotel. A Ugandan government spokesperson told VOA’s Swahili Service the Afghans are in transit and would be sent to a third country.

Other Afghan nationals fleeing their homeland are expected to arrive in Uganda in coming days.

The foreign ministry said the move follows a U.S. request to provide temporary asylum to Afghans and other travelers on their way to the United States and other parts of the world.

Speaking to VOA correspondent Peter Clottey earlier this week, Uganda's foreign minister, General Al-Haji Abubaker Odongo Jeje, said the East African country had the capacity to provide safe refuge for 2,000 evacuees.

"We have the capacity, we have the area, we have the land,” Odongo said, noting that his government is still negotiating terms. “… We will discuss our responsibilities, our responsibilities and what the roles and responsibilities of our partners in this operation. So, it will not be a Ugandan thing alone.”

Uganda hosts about 1.5 million refugees worldwide — mostly from South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo — according to the United Nations.

Brian George, the U.S. Mission head of Public Affairs, expressed appreciation for Uganda’s generosity.

“The government of Uganda has once again demonstrated a willingness to play its part in matters of international concern. We commend its efforts and those of the local and international organizations in Uganda who are providing humanitarian support in partnership with the government of Uganda for these evacuees from Afghanistan.”

Peter Clottey of VOA’s English to Africa Service and Carol Guensburg contributed to this report.