Following a request from the U.S. government, Uganda has agreed to take in 2,000 refugees who have fled Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover on Sunday. The first group of 500 Afghans is expected to arrive at Entebbe Airport later on Tuesday.
“The request was made yesterday by the U.S. government to H.E. (President Yoweri Museveni) and he has given them an OK to bring 2,000 (Afghan) refugees to Uganda,” Esther Anyakun Davinia, Uganda’s junior minister for relief, disaster preparedness and refugees, told Reuters.
“They are going to be here temporarily for three months before the U.S. government resettles them elsewhere.”
The U.S. will cover the costs, according to BBC. Uganda, which currently hosts about 1.4 million refugees, mostly from South Sudan, has a long history of welcoming refugees fleeing conflict or disasters.
The new Afghans to arrive will be tested for Covid-19 before they are sent to isolation centers, Anyakun told BBC.
Chaos unfolded at the airport in Kabul on Monday as Afghan citizens tried to force their way onto American planes to flee the country which has fallen under Taliban control. Taliban militants in the last few weeks rapidly took control of provincial capitals and eventually occupied the capital city Kabul, prompting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to flee the country on Sunday.
The Taliban takeover has put thousands of Afghans, particularly those who helped U.S. forces, at risk. The Taliban has since returned to power and this comes after a US-led intervention ousted them in 2001. The Islamist group was able to take power on Sunday after most foreign troops pulled out.
Many desperate Afghans subsequently moved to the airport where U.S. troops were organizing evacuations for foreigners and vulnerable residents.
Amnesty International has said decisions from the White House “only fanned the flames of this humanitarian catastrophe.”
“Every moment that the Biden administration continues not to course correct could have horrific consequences, exacerbating the already atrocious failures to support the people of Afghanistan, including the Afghans who risked their lives and those of their families to provide assistance to the U.S,” the statement said.
At the moment, U.S. forces have secured the airport perimeter in Kabul. A defense official said an agreement had been reached that Taliban forces would not interfere with evacuation efforts at the airport, according to the Associated Press.