Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has released standard procedures for the return of Ugandans stranded in foreign countries following the outbreak of Coronavirus earlier this year.
The guidelines provide that those who wish to return must be Ugandans citizens or those who wish to come as stranded nationals.
The returnees must possess Ugandan passports or other recognised identification particulars such as residence or work permit.
“As you are aware, Cabinet recently approved in principle to allow Ugandans who stranded abroad due to the closure of Entebbe Airport and of the borders following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic to start returning home in a safe and orderly manner,” said the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Patrick Mugoya in a letter dated June 16 to diplomatic missions abroad.
“Accordingly, the Ministry working with relevant MDAs have developed the enclosed standard procedures that will guide your mission in arranging for the return of the stranded nationals,” he added.
As a measure to forestall a possible outbreak of the pandemic in Uganda, President Museveni on March 21, 2020, announced the immediate closure of
Uganda’s international borders and of Entebbe international airport, effective the following day.
An assessment done by the National Taskforce on Covid-19 had concluded that imported cases posed the highest possible source of an outbreak of the pandemic in this country.
The measures created a parallel problem whereby several Ugandans who had travelled abroad on short visits for business, medical treatment, tourism and other valid reasons got stranded either in the countries which they were visiting or in transit countries as they travelled back home.
Additionally, many Ugandan students who had completed their studies abroad were not able to return home on account of these travel restrictions.
In the Middle East, where many migrant workers got laid off from their jobs due to economic slowdown brought on by COVID-19, many Ugandans were unable to return home despite obtaining air tickets from their former employers.
In his letter to Uganda’s diplomatic missions abroad, Mugoya did not reveal when the return of the Ugandans would start. Efforts to reach him on his mobile phone were yet to bear fruit.
However, Health Minister, Dr Ruth Aceng recently said the return of Ugandans was imminent.
Other standard procedures released by Mugoya include returnees being responsible for making own reservations with the airlines; a negative PCR test result for COVID-19 taken ten days prior to the date of the planned trip to Uganda.
Returnees will also pay the entire cost of their travel up to the designated point of entry such as Entebbe airport.
Relatives will not be allowed to meet or pick a returnee from the airport on arrival.
Returnees will deposit their passports with immigration office.
The passports will be returned to their owners at the end of the mandatory quarantine period upon presentation to the immigration office of a certificate of release from the quarantine issued by the health ministry,
Uganda’s total confirmed COVID-19 cases stands at 732 with no deaths.
The country remains in partial lockdown to prevent further spread of the disease.
The return of Ugandans stuck overseas would be a huge relief to families worried about their dear ones in areas ravaged by COVID-19.
Mugoya also listed some of the hotels designated as COVID-19 quarantine centres as showed below: