Afghan evacuees arrive in Africa


Afghan refugees land in Uganda. 

A flight carrying Afghanistan evacuees has touched down in Uganda where they will receive temporary refuge according to government and diplomatic offices.

In a statement, Uganda’s foreign ministry revealed that 51 evacuees from Afghanistan arrived aboard a private charter flight that touched down at the Entebbe International Airport. The East African further reported that dozens of Afghan school girls alongside the faculty and staff will be relocated to Rwanda. This was the only girls boarding school in the war-torn country. 

As per the School of Leadership, Afghanistan (SOLA) founder, Shabana Basij-Rasikh, over 250 adolescent students, staff, faculty, and family members would decamp to Rwanda and finish their education over the following months. 

Uganda agreed to temporarily host the refugees following a request by the United States government to temporarily host Afghan nationals who are “at-risk.” The embassy of the United States-based in Kampala expressed gratitude for Uganda’s "generosity and hospitality.” According to the New York Times the United States will cover the upkeep costs of all evacuees, alongside the support of groups like the Mercy Corps. The Rockefeller Foundation paid for the privately chartered flight.  

Uganda holds one of the largest refugee populations in the globe - over 1.5 million according to the United Nations with most of them coming from neighboring South Sudan and the DRC. The United States is the largest bilateral supporter of refugees held up in Uganda. Cumulatively, development and military aid to Uganda is over $970 million. 

Among the evacuees are men, women, and children composed of Afghans, Europeans, and Americans. A good number of the Afghans were working with U.S-funded NGOs, Special Immigrant Visa applicants, and others qualified for P2 visas. 

As per the statement, the evacuees had received Covid-19 screening and undergone prior security checks. Reuters reports that on arrival at Entebbe airport, they rode on a courtesy bus to their accommodation.

It further reports that Uganda nationals were to arrive on the same flight but were unable due to challenges faced in accessing Kabul airport. The ministry said that efforts were being made to evacuate the remaining Ugandans on a subsequent flight. 

The United States and her allies have evacuated tens of thousands of people including endangered Afghans. All evacuations are to be completed before the August 31st deadline - required for the withdrawal of all foreign troops.

Several other countries globally have agreed to serve as transit stops - among them Canada, Mexico, Kuwait, and Qatar. Some have even expressed an intention to grant the Afghan evacuees refugee status or offer resettlement. Uganda is led by President Yoweri Museveni who has ruled since 1986 and happens to be a strong US military ally. 

The Taliban swiftly took back power in Afghanistan after two decades of a US-led intervention that ousted them in 2001. As foreign troops exited the Taliban swept through the country in record time forcing tens of thousands to flee their homes and arrive at the Afghan capital in Kabul.

The final fall of Kabul forced the Afghan president Ashraf Ghani to flee the country.