A total of 276 Ugandans and Uganda residents and dependent on Friday evening started off their journey to Uganda in a repatriation flight expected to arrive at Entebbe Airport today
The group boarded Ethiopian Airlines from Washington DC.
The flight was seen off by the Ambassador of Uganda to the USA, South America and the Caribbean, H.E. Mull Sebujja Katende who was flanked by Deputy Chief of Mission, Amb. Santa Mary Laker-Kinyera and Permanent Representative of Uganda to the United Nations, Amb. Adonia Ayebare.
A second group of 88 passengers will depart from Canada, and the Caribbean today Saturday transiting in Addis Ababa and will arrive at Entebbe Airport on Sunday.
The travelers from the US and Caribbean included Ugandans and legal residents and their dependents, affected by the March 23rd closure of Entebbe Airport due to COVID-19 concerns.
The majority of passengers are holders of US visitors visas, F1 and J1 student and research fellow visas and Ugandan resident permit holders who were unable to travel back to Uganda when the airport was closed. Others had traveled for medical reasons.
Given the closure of numerous borders in both North and South America due to COVID-19 concerns and visa limitations of several of the affected persons it was necessary to create multiple departure locations, to ensure that everyone who could do so was afforded an opportunity to return.
While flagging off the group , Ambasador Katende revealed that the registration and repatriation process has been a complex matter due to the size of the area of accreditation.
He paid tribute to his colleagues Amb. Adonia Ayebare (PR New York) and Amb. Jane Ruth Acheng (Ottawa), the management of Ethiopian Airlines and Mr. Mukesh Sahu of Satguru Travel Solutions for their tireless efforts to reach out and provide guidance to the stranded Ugandans.
He further applauded the Ugandan government through the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Health for putting in place clear guidelines and standard operating procedures to ensure that travellers do not just return to Uganda but ensured that they do so safely.
This group is in the second phase of the repatriation exercise to return in the country after the elapse of 14 days period eversince the first batch returned.
The exercise is expected to continue untill most of Ugandans who were caught up by the pandemic from foreign countries safely return home.