By Emmanuel Nduka
Uganda has become the first African country to offer to take in fleeing refugees from war-torn Afghanistan, following the country’s takeover by the Taliban.
The East African nation said on Tuesday it was considering a US request to take in refugees from Afghanistan, as thousands of people flee the hard-line Islamic group’s new government.
Giving the assurance, Uganda’s Foreign Ministry in a statement, said President Yoweri Museveni has “expressed Uganda’s readiness to provide assistance including temporary hosting of some of the affected persons in the current crisis” adding that “Discussions on this issue are still ongoing.”
Meanwhile, media reports had suggested that Uganda — already home to the biggest refugee population in Africa — had agreed to take about 2,000 refugees, but this was not confirmed in the ministry statement.
“Following the events of last weekend in Afghanistan the government of the United States of America reached out to several of its international partners including Uganda to assist in the likely event of the need to temporarily host some of the Afghans and international citizens that may be evacuated,” the statement added.
With up to 1.5 million refugees, Uganda hosts one of the largest refugee populations in the world, according to the United Nations, mainly from neighbouring South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Most of them live in large refugee settlements in the sparingly populated north of the country, but around 81,000 urban refugees live in the capital Kampala.