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Ugandans in China deny government claims, seek return

Ugandans stranded in China due to Covid-19 have said they are under extreme distress and are desperate for repatriation contrary to claims by Foreign Affairs State minister Henry Oryem-Okello.

Mr Oryem, in a statement on Wednesday, said Ugandans in China were not among the 2,392 persons on the Foreign ministry’s list of potential returnees because they were not interested in coming back.

Many Ugandans stranded in China whom Daily Monitor interviewed by telephone said they did not refuse to return home and counter-accused government of letting them down.

They said they are jobless, have nothing to eat and are suffering extreme racial discrimination. They said the local communities refer to them as “Corona” and mock them to take their disease back home.

They said they have formed a group which has so far registered at least 300 Ugandans.
Mr Derrick Kyeyune, one of the stranded Ugandans, said he has a pregnant wife who is due any time but has no money for hospital bills.

“Unfortunately the people who we believed were to help us get out of here are doing the opposite. I’ve a baby on the way anytime now but I cannot afford the hospital bills plus the mother’s recovery procedure.

The embassy won’t do anything to support us, the house we are in was last paid for in February,” Mr Kyeyune said.

Ms Clare Namutebi, another Ugandan, said majority of Ugandan embassy officials in China left the country and do not know the precarious situation of their citizens there.

“None of our leaders is on ground to see the suffering we are going through. The ambassador and our chairman are all in. They said they were going to get us a plane to take us back home at Shs10m.

Where do you expect someone who has not been working to get all that money?” Ms Namutebi said.

Ms Daisy Owemigisha said she has spent seven months jobless following the closure of schools in China in December due to Covid-19. She said all the Ugandan teaches were laid off and have no hope of getting any other job since teaching English is the only job Africans can do in China.

Mr Constant Kalege, who is living in Guangzhou city, said black people were asked to get introductory letters from their consulates if they were to be helped with rent during the Covid-19 lockdown but none of them has received any response from their governments. Another Ugandan commonly known as Omuntu Wawansi who formed a WhatsApp group for the stranded Ugandans, said 300 Ugandans registered and are ready to return back.

He said there are very few who want to stay and are running some businesses but all those who went to teach are jobless and want to return home.

However he appealed to government to help them pay half of the flight charges since the majority who want to return do not have money.

Mr Oryem, speaking to Daily Monitor in a telephone interview yesterday, insisted that what he said about the Ugandans in China was the truth.

“I am not going to answer anything on this issue now. People are coming back and that is the most important thing now. We cannot satisfy everybody 100 per cent.

Maybe one or two people in China are not happy but that is their problem. What I am happy about is that we are bringing Ugandans back and the government should be appreciated,” Mr Oryem said.

By Daily Monitor

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