THE immigration office in Entebbe is receiving an average of 71 Ugandans per month, deported from abroad. The deportees are mainly from South Africa, Japan, UK and UAE.
THE immigration office in Entebbe is receiving an average of 71 Ugandans per month, deported from abroad.
According to the assistant commissioner, Entebbe Immigration Office, John Nuwagira, these Ugandans are mainly deported from South Africa, Japan, UK and UAE.
â€œThey are usually returned penniless and desperate,â€ he says.
Most of them are deported for working without permits, over-staying visas, crimes, expiry of passport or family disputes.
Nkuba kyeyos, Ugandans working abroad, are earning the country a lot of foreign exchange in form of remittances. These earnings reached a record level of $1.4b (sh2.338trillion) in the 2007/2008 financial year, making remittances the major source of foreign exchange.
For many who stay out illegally, life is not as comfortable as the money they bring. Deportation remains a constant fear.
It is a mind boggling experience for victims who claim torture, abuse and in some cases, confinement for failing to co-operate with officials who deport them from foreign countries.
Simpson Namureba in South West London says they move about ready to duck or burrow when immigration officers mount stop and search operations, especially at tube stations. â€œThey can raid work places and ask for residential status at awkward hours,â€ he says.
Namureba says jobs have become scarce in UK because the EU allowed in Polish citizens seeking employment. â€œEmployers are more strict with recruitment; they ask for a work permit, passport, police record and a personal bank account when recruiting cleaners or even care takers,â€ says Namureba. He says this has made working for more than 16 hours a day impossible.
Birnberg Peirce & Partners compiled a report, Medical Justice and the National Coalition Against Deportation Campaign, explaining that the UK Home Office contracts private â€œescortsâ€ to assist in deporting unwanted foreigners and an alarming number of injuries have been sustained by asylum deportees.
In 2006, over 100 cases of alleged abuse involving attempts or successful deportation of African detainees were reported.
Efforts to get a comment from Kenya Airways and British companies were fruitless as management declined to comment saying the allegations involve the British Home Office.
The report refers to some 29 cases involving Ugandans. An example of Duncan Kasasa is given. He was taken to Heathrow Airport and told he had to be flown out despite suffering from high blood pressure, was dizzy, sweaty and confused.
â€œOne of the â€˜escortsâ€™ for Mr Kasasa reportedly told him: â€œYou bastard. Uganda is peaceful. You are going back. You are a pretender - batty boy,â€ the report notes.
A Kenyan woman, known only as Ms BM, who, suffering mental illness, alleges that she was handcuffed and sat on by security officers at Yarlâ€™s Wood Immigration Centre.
The UK Labour MP Dianne Abbot was quoted as saying the information contained in the 70-page document was â€œone of the most shocking reports about our immigration system that I have seen in 20 years as MP.â€
The report catalogues the frightening state-sponsored violence against asylum-seekers when they are being deported. This report suggests a complete failure [by the Home Office] to investigate many of the allegations.
â€œThis report is distressing. But for (UK) ministers, it is a damning verdict on their inability to inject even a shred of humanity into a flailing immigration systemâ€ added Abbot.
When contacted about why Ugandans abroad are not protected from this persecution, a source at the foreign affairs ministry said it was the duty of individual embassies to see that every Ugandan abroad is treated fairly. â€œBut many are reluctant to register with commissions upon their arrival.â€
He explained that many Ugandans shun their embassies until they are detained by immigration officers, when they divulge their places of origin. The embassy learns about their fate when it is too late.
â€œAnd even then, they do not want us to know much about them because many are already planning to process different passports and return,â€ he adds.
A senior immigration officer, Eunice Kisembo, says in Uganda, before a foreigners are deported, they are given two weeks to appeal and have a chance to take their belongings. In addition, their legal and their human rights are respected.
In Uganda, Mission After Custody (MAC) was formed in 2005 to assist people reintegrate into society. It also took on Ugandans who suffer deportation especially those who lose property. It has since handled 150 deportees.
MAC director Maurice Kizito says most of the deportees were from Japan, UAE, UK, USA, South Africa, Germany and the Netherlands.
He explains that on arrival, most of them are withdrawn and sad.
â€œThis is because they are kept in detention centres for weeks as their travel documents are processed. In the UK they are given airtime worth 5 pounds to call relatives and lawyers,â€ he said.
Because illegal migrants know they are likely to be deported anytime, he says, they are keen on learning about MAC. Kizito says when they are contacted about deported Ugandans, they receive them at Entebbe Airport, counsel them, give them accommodation and help them get employment.
70 Ugandans deported every month