Ministers in charge of the Labour and Security have been tasked by parliament to present a status update on the exact number of Ugandan security guards serving in the Middle East.
This directive from Speaker Rebecca Kadaga followed concerns about the safety of these Ugandans, after it emerged that some were involved in the riotous scenes that played out early this month in Baghdad.
Different media outlets reported that guards that were filmed trying to fend off supporters of Iranian backed Kataib Hezbollah were of Ugandan origin.
These were reportedly guarding the United States Embassy in the zone when protests broke out over the USs military attack on neighboring Iran.
The issue was resurrected yesterday by Rukungiri Municipality Member of Parliament (MP) Roland Kaginda while speaking on the floor of parliament.
Kaginda, who claims to have some of his constituents in the Arabian Peninsula pointed out that at the beginning of the American invasion in Iraq 2003, there were 6000 Ugandans. However, he expressed deep concern that government had not made efforts to ascertain the real number in the face of similar incidents.
“I want the government of Uganda to inform us about the safety of Ugandans who are there and how many they are. Two; what plans does the government have to evacuate those security guards who are working there because the situation in Iraq is not good for them,” he stated.
On his part, Ibrahim Semujju Nganda the Kira Municipality MP asked whether government was keeping tabs on this militaristic migrant force saying it has capability of stirring trouble.
“It is estimated that about 10,000 Ugandans are working as guards, they are armed people,” Semujju noted.
Responding, State Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi acknowledged their fears. However, Nakiwala stated that she was preparing a report on Labour externalization before asking to be given time to liaise with the security ministry to this effect.
Speaker Kadaga while ruling on the matter cautioned members to focus on the safety of these guards primarily and leave other complicated questions to deal with evacuation and resettlement aside.
“First of all these people went to Iraq, they signed contracts. No one sent them. They are coming back. I think let’s concentrate on the safety of Ugandan guards in Iraq which the minister is going to answer,” she advised.
Last year while presenting a statement to parliament, Peace Mutuuzo the State Minister for Gender and Culture indicated that the number of Ugandan laborers in Middle East countries had risen to 83,328.
Leading the pack was United Arab Emirates (UAE) with close to 30,000 followed by Iraq with 19,719 although it is not clear what type of work they are engaged in.