KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Uganda's government said that 51 people evacuated from Afghanistan arrived in the East African country Wednesday at the request of the United States.
Authorities said in a statement that the group, transported to Uganda on a chartered flight, included men, women and children. No further details were immediately given on the evacuees' identities.
Ugandan officials said last week that the country would shelter up to 2,000 people fleeing the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan. They said the Afghans would be brought to Uganda in small groups as a temporary arrangement before they are relocated elsewhere.
“The decision to host those in need is informed by the government of Uganda's consistent policy of receiving refugees and persons in distress as well as playing a responsible role in matters of international concern," the statement said.
The evacuees will stay at hotels in a lakeside city outside the Ugandan capital, Kampala. Ugandan officials have repeatedly said the United States would pay the cost of caring for people evacuated from Afghanistan, and groups such as Mercy Corps are offering to help.
The U.S.-based humanitarian group said it would support Ugandan authorities “to respond to the most immediate needs” of the evacuees.
“These civilians, mainly women and children, are searching for safety. Uganda’s commitment to welcome Afghan evacuees should be applauded and supported by the international community,” Allison Huggins, a Mercy Corps official in Africa, said in a statement. “But the task is enormous, and we must stand in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, who need support now more than ever.”
Uganda has long been a ally of the U.S., especially on security matters in the region.
But some activists and opponents of President Yoweri Museveni, who was reelected in January, say the U.S. arrangement with Uganda is problematic because it appears blind to allegations of rights abuses and bad governance in a country that has never had a peaceful transfer of power.
Follow AP’s Afghanistan coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/afghanistan