There are just about 20 or fewer more Ugandans still trapped in the war-torn Sudanese capital Khartoum, the Government has clarified. When civil strife emerged in Khartoum some three weeks ago, there were 300 Ugandans registered present in Sudan.
Uganda’s ambassador to Sudan Dr Rashid Yahya Ssemuddu on Saturday said when the 211 Ugandans were evacuated aboard the Ugandan Airlines following President Museveni’s intervention just about 50 Ugandans remained.
Ssemuddu said the majority of these (19) were Ugandans, with heart disease receiving treatment at Alsalam Hospital.
He told the press that so far, more Ugandans who wouldn’t make it in time to board the Uganda Airlines due to distance have so far left Sudan through Egypt, Port Sudan, Chad, Ethiopia, and Juba, in South Sudan.
“What we have on record is that there were just 300 Ugandans in Sudan when the two warring factions began the civil strife, and the majority of these have been securely returned home along with their families,” he said.
Adding further: “We have eight who we evacuated with the help of our Saudi Arabian Friends, three who made their way through Port Sudan, seven who were helped by the UN and there are others who used the Sudan-Ethiopia border. Others who went through Southern Sudan.” Ssemuddu said some other two Ugandans were repatriated by the Rwandan Government, and another additional 10 were ferried on by the Kenyan government, a true reflection of the East African spirit.
He noted that as Uganda’s envoy to Sudan, he and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs along with the supervision of H.E. the president are doing all it takes to ensure even the few trapped Ugandans remaining in Khartoum are safely repatriated home.
Hon Muwada’s Allegations rubbished.
Commenting on what he described as ‘baseless’, ‘fake’, ‘defamatory’, and ‘un-researched’ remarks by Kyadondo East legislator, Muwada Nkuyingi, Ssemuddu observed that being in opposition doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate government roles and initiatives.
“I shudder at some politicians who seek cheap popularity and seek media attention with unresearched, malicious, and propaganda utterances. Hon. Muwada would have first sought me to give him facts before giving false news to Ugandans,” said Hajji Ssemuddu.
He said it is not true that there are thousands of Ugandans stuck in Sudan. “It is also not true that any Ugandan was charged a coin, let alone discriminated against when boarding the Uganda Airlines. Also, no single foreigner paid a penny to be airlifted to Entebbe.” “We have just about 20-30 Ugandans still in Khartoum, the majority being patients and we are in touch with the Red Crescent to ensure they are repatriated once they complete their treatment,” noted Hajji Ssemuddu.
Evacuated Ugandans Speak Out
Scores of Ugandans we have talked to who were evacuated from Khartoum have lashed out at the Kyadondo East MP. Hon Muwada for trying to gain political mileage out of a crisis.
Aisha Badru Atiq, the Chairperson of Ugandan students studying in Sudan said all students studying in Sudan were repatriated. “When the war began, a social media group was created by the embassy where all Ugandans in Khartoum were asked to register and come to the embassy. It is here that we all assembled and boarded buses to the Ethiopian border where we got the Uganda Airlines to Entebbe,” said Atiq.
tiq a fifth-year student of Dentistry said none of the Ugandans was charged any fee. “I am so grateful to President Museveni, the Ugandan Embassy staff in Khartoum led by H.E Dr Yahya Rashid Ssemuddu, and Gen. Karara who made sure we returned to Uganda in one piece,” she said. “I am also so happy that unlike other VVIPs we were accorded one of the most luxurious arrivals when we landed in Entebbe. I thank Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba for his good heart, we were fed well, along the entire way, on the plane, and even when we landed in Entebbe, I personally didn’t pay any coin, and I also didn’t see any student on board paying any penny, long live President Museveni,” said Atiq.
The Chairperson Ugandan Community in Sudan Ratib Baiga said that much as many Ugandans are still trapped inside Khartoum, it is so ridiculous to say they are in thousands. “When the war broke out, we had about 300 Ugandans in Sudan. Many came with us, and nobody, I repeat no one was charged a fee. The four buses had Ugandan students, embassy staff, some Ugandans who were heading for pilgrimage, and scores of a few foreigners,” he said.
Kennedy Ochola, one of the foreigners from Kenya who was evacuated aboard the Uganda Airlines couldn’t hide his joy. “I am the former chairperson of the Kenyan diaspora in Sudan. The generosity exhibited to us by the Government of Uganda, its leadership, and embassy staff is enormous. When the war began we were heading nowhere,” said Ochola, a resident of Western Kenya in Nyanza.
Ochola who are airlifted aboard Uganda Airlines along with his wife Maureen Elizabeth and two daughters was so grateful. “We were Ugandans by spirit. I decided that I rather die near home in Uganda, than in Khartoum. My special thanks go to H.E Museveni, Ambassador Ssemuddu, I and my entire were airlifted up to Entebbe at no single cost.” I would have headed home already, but the sweetness of Ugandan matooke is irresistible. But my family and I will be heading back home to Kenya by road this Sunday, April 30, 2023,” said Ochola.
Inside the Sudan Power Struggle
In Sudan, a power struggle between army chief Gen Abdel Fatah al-Burhan and his deputy-turned-rival, Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo alias Hemedti, began on April 15. According to Ssemuddu, a lot of infrastructure has been destroyed and many lives were lost from both sides during the period.
“I want to thank President Yoweri Museveni for ensuring the safe return of our citizens although they haven’t all yet returned, all security agencies, from SFC, students and business people for their return, we are grateful,” he said.