The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has cautioned Ugandans, especially the media, against taking and publishing pictures of the Afghan evacuees hosted in the country. The Minister says that any such action may be tantamount to a security threat.
State Minister for Regional cooperation John Mulimba made a statement on Wednesday afternoon while updating parliament on the status of hosting persons evacuated from Afghanistan.
The first batch of 51 people arrived in the country on Wednesday morning aboard a chartered flight, as the United States rushes to airlift thousands of people out of the country ahead of a self-imposed deadline to depart Afghanistan by August 31.
The arrival of the evacuees is in line with the US government’s request to Uganda to temporarily host at-risk Afghan nationals and other nationals in transit to the US and other destinations worldwide following the fall of Kabul to the Taliban.
According to earlier statements from the Foreign Affairs Ministry officials, the US government asked Uganda to host up to 2,000 refugees.
Mulimba said that some of the evacuated persons could be wanted by the Taliban government and taking their photographs could put their lives in danger and added that there is a need for media houses to report very cautiously because the matter has components of national security.
“I need to make an appeal to honourable colleagues, the country, but particularly to the media houses that the evacuees, who are now stateless, are people who are stressed, they need some kind of treatment such that they recover,” he said in part.
Regarding the presence of Ugandans in Kabul, State Minister Mulimba, told parliament that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs undertook efforts to establish the status of Uganda nationals in Afghanistan and has since learnt that 10 Ugandans working in the United Nations-UN system were evacuated on a flight to London, in the United Kingdom.
He noted that these are now in the 14-day quarantine and they will thereafter travel to Uganda.
Parliament further learnt that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has through its contact established that there are now two Ugandans present in Kabul and that arrangements are being made to repatriate them.
The minister said that efforts are still underway to establish the presence of any other Ugandans in Afghanistan.
Mulimba emphasized that the Afghan evacuees will remain in Uganda while they are processed by the US Embassy for their onward journey.
He added that the Government will in the coming period continue to engage with the US Embassy in Kampala to extend the necessary assistance to the evacuees from Afghanistan.
“It is worth noting that these are not refugees. The processing may take a few weeks or months. The cost of providing for the needs and requirements of the evacuees is being met by the US authorities,” he explained.