Repatriation of Ugandans stranded in the United Arab Emirates

The UAE market is important for Uganda’s exports, being the number one market export in the Gulf Countries and number five globally. Commencing early August 2022, the government of the United Arab Emirates granted amnesty to persons who were staying illegally in the UAE.

Repatriation of Ugandans stranded in the United Arab Emirates

KAMPALA - Uganda and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) formalized diplomatic relations in 2009 when oan Embassy was opened in Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates reciprocated by opening an Embassy in Kampala in 2011. When the Embassy was opened in 2009 there were less than 1000 Ugandans living and working in the UAE which number has grown to approximately 100,000.

The UAE market is important for Uganda’s exports, being the number one market export in the Gulf Countries and number five globally. Commencing early August 2022, the government of the United Arab Emirates granted amnesty to persons who were staying illegally in the UAE. This amnesty is for a period of three months from August and ending October 2022. Subsequently over seven nationalities turned out to benefit from the amnesty among them were Kenya Nigeria, Sierra-Leone and Uganda amongst others.

Amongst the nationalities Uganda was the largest out of the 3,000 that turned up. 1,500 of the 3,000 were Ugandans and out of the 1,500 – Ugandans, 280 had their passports. The 1,220 who did not have passports the Embassy sought permission from the Ministry of Internal Affairs to issue the requisite travel documents on gratis. Authorization was by granted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and all the Ugandans that had turned up received the travel documents. By Sunday 23 October 2022 majority of the Ugandans that were at Al Awir Immigration Camp had been repatriated aboard Fly Dubai and Air Arabia and the last batch arrived on Monday 24 October 2022.

Out of the 100,000 Ugandans living and working in the UAE, it is projected that about 5 % are residing in the country illegally and stranded. Out of this 5%, 1.5% were those that turned up to the call of amnesty and the 3.5% have not turned up yet.

The Amnesty period ends in October. Our prayer is that we handle this issue of Ugandans stranded in UAE diplomatically to avoid jeopardizing the future of those 95% Ugandans who are there legally. This is because this 95% (diaspora) has made a great contribution when it comes to remittances to Uganda. In 2018 remittances from UAE to Uganda were worth USD 50 million and this number has since increased to USD 200 million.

Uganda and UAE enjoy cordial relations since 2009. This has further been strengthened through the exchange of visits that have happened between the two countries over the years coupled with various Foreign Direct Investments that are being undertaken by UAE in Uganda. The Foreign Direct Investment in 2018 was worth USD 300 million and has since grown to USD 3 billion. The trade portfolio in 2018 was USD 600 million which has grown to USD 2 billion. Considering the above, I therefore call upon Ugandans to exercise the utmost diplomacy in this matter to avoid causing diplomatic tension between the two countries.

The above communication came from Uganda’s Embassy in United Arab Emirates, situated at Villa No. 17, West: 17/02, Al Falah Street 9, Al-Bateen P.O.Box: 113308, Abu Dhabi - U.A.E. - Tel: +971 2 6659931 - Fax: +971 2 6659934 Email: info@ugandaembassyuae.com - Website: www.ugandaembassyuae.com.