Hundreds more are likely to arrive in the coming days. According to Uganda, the intention is for evacuees to be received temporarily before they move to the United States or another destination. The US embassy in Uganda did not issue any official statement regarding the possible transfer.
Uganda opened its borders at the request of Washington, who was said to be paying for the shelter. According to local authorities, the evacuees are being housed in a hotel in the city of Entebbe, near the national airport.
In its statement, the US Embassy refers to Uganda’s “long tradition” of receiving refugees. Uganda currently hosts 1.5 million refugees, more than any other African country. Most of these refugees come from South Sudan and the Congo. The US said the Ugandan government, now intervening in Afghanistan, was once again showing its willingness to cooperate on issues of “international concern”.
But there are also criticisms left and right: By working closely with Uganda, Washington is legitimizing a regime that keeps its people firmly on its side. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has been in power for 35 years.
Museveni often succeeds in fending off Western criticism of his dictatorship by invoking his role as a regional handyman, a role that is expressed not only in the reception of refugees, but also in Museveni’s decision to deploy his army in Somalia, where an active youth group.
The arrival of the evacuees from Afghanistan comes a day after Museveni’s government suspended more than 50 NGOs in Uganda, officially because their papers were not in order. Some NGOs work in the field of human rights and democracy. Washington will have a hard time condemning this “repression” now that Uganda has done a “service” to the United States on Afghanistan, says political analyst Rashid Abdi.
Uganda belongs to a group of more than a dozen countries that are ready, according to the United States, to receive (temporary) refugees from Afghanistan. This list includes Albania, Poland and Ukraine. In Africa, in addition to Uganda, Rwanda would like to cooperate. The Rwandan regime is also a partner of the West.
Money and weapons
Uganda made headlines about three years ago due to the inclusion of asylum seekers deported from Israel. In exchange for unconfirmed favors—there would have been money, and possibly weapons—Uganda captured a group of Eritreans and Sudanese. Human rights groups have condemned the forced deportation. Rwanda has denied having a similar deal with Israel.
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