When 51 women, men and children arrived at Entebbe International Airport on a charter flight from Afghanistan on August 25, 2021, they were brought to the Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel.
Journalists were banned from entry when talking to They and they have remained as mysterious as they came.
Wendy Kasujja, a communications officer at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, told The East African that the Afghans were “guests of the Government and the US Embassy “and that they are neither refugees nor asylum seekers.
The Afghan” guests “should spend three months in Uganda, ending on November 25, before moving to a host country and came on US request to.
The exotic Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel charges more than US $ 200 per person per night and the Afghans lived there for at least two months before moving into private apartments in the same neighborhood, the luxurious beach props offers ert y and is associated with the wealthy.
When the East African visited the refugees’ homes, we found two plainclothes guards and an armed police officer. A request to meet the Afghans was answered with an emphatic “no” by one of the guards.
“You have to get permission from above first,” he said.
But who? is your host?
Refugee Minister Hilary Onek says the Afghans were never registered under his ministry and that they are under the Foreign Affairs Protocol.
< His junior minister, Esther Anyakun, told The EastAfrican on November 17th that responsibility for Afghans had been taken over by the State Department as they were categorized as guests rather than refugees.
The Minister for International Cooperation Henry Oryem Okello says the Afghans were asylum seekers. He said the State Department is working closely with the Refugee Department to make their stay comfortable, adding that they recently left the hotel they were booked at because they wanted to be free.
Mr Okello said the Afghans are under the care of the US government, which will bear their costs and will do so until they are relocated. There is no time frame for their stay.
Since every Afghan spends at least $ 200 a day, Mr. Oryem said, “Imagine we had over 6,000 of them; how much money would have been pumped into the economy? ”
Political commentators such as Prof> A British political scientist familiar with Afghan politics said on condition of anonymity that Uganda would accept, given its relative geographic proximity Afghanistan, its ideological distance from Afghan politics, its strong security and reliability as an ally of the US, the EU and the UK.
“The latter point, if indeed a factor, would strongly imply that these guests even in some ways close to the United States, the European Union and the British coalition, troops in Afghanistan, “he said.
” They were tired of the hotel surroundings and wanted the freedom to cook their own food and theirs to do my own shopping, “he said.
” Afghan refugees can attract the attention of international terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, al-Sh. are pulling away and ISIS into Uganda and destabilizing the country, “he said.
However, the recent bombings in Kampala have in no way been linked to the Afghans living in Uganda. The Islamic State, which admitted to the fatal attacks, named Uganda’s participation “in the war against IS in Central Africa” as a motivation.
The Afghan refugees arrived in Uganda after the US government requested to be housed in the country for three months while they waited to be relocated to the US. But why was Uganda chosen as a safe place to send such potentially high-profile people?