China Agrees to Help Quarantined Ugandans, Accommodate those that Have Overstayed

Uganda's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sam Kutesa

The Chinese government has agreed to provide accommodation for Ugandans who have overstayed their visa duration in China and have been left with no places of residence, according to Uganda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sam Kutesa.

Minister Kutesa revealed this on Tuesday at a news conference in Kampala.

He said that the Chinese government also agreed to provide assistance to Ugandan nationals who have been quarantined in hotel facilities and cannot afford the cost.

The resolutions arise from a meeting held Monday between African Missions and China’s Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs. The meeting followed widespread concerns regarding the spike in racial targeting against Africans in China and denying them essential services.

There have been reports of segregation by Chinese nationals against people from Africa, including Ugandans and denying them essential services, targeting them as carriers of the coronavirus disease.

Some Ugandans in China where COVID-19 originated in December 2019, have revealed that they have been thrown out of the residential units they have been renting without legitimate cause. These reports have caused public uproar with Ugandans condemning these acts of racism.

On Saturday, Minister Kutesa held talks with Chinese ambassador Zheng Zhuqiang in Kampala over the same issue.

“The Minister conveyed serious concern of the government of Uganda on the harassment and mistreatment of its nationals,” a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reads in part.

Kutesa called on the Chinese government to urgently intervene and address the plight of Ugandans in China.

Monday’s meeting resolved to establish an effective communication mechanism between Guangzhou local authorities and African counsel generals – there are 11 Consulates of Africa including that of Uganda. Chinese government committed to ensuring that information sharing and addressing all the concerns is carried out amicably.

A number of issues were discussed. There was miscommunication or failure to communicate and sensitize the officials of local governments on how to handle this situation especially in Guangdong Province and the city of Guangzhou,” Kutesa told reporters on Tuesday.

“It was agreed to provide accommodations for Ugandans who have overstayed their visas and have been left with no places of residence. It was also agreed to provide assistance to those that have n=been quarantined in hotel facilities and cannot afford the cost”.

China also committed that there will be no more targeted evictions and renovation of legal rental contracts by landlords as alleged, Kutesa said.

Similar commitment was made in regard to discrimination in access to services like medical markets, public transport, restaurants, malls and that where it has happened, it was out of individual actions and not Cabinet decision.

“We will keep engaging Chinese government. We asked them that due to lockdown and travel restrictions, Ugandans should be allowed to stay in China without being harassed and that their costs be paid for. The government of China is considering that,” the Minister said. 

The Minister said he was pleased with outcomes of the engagement with China.

Uganda’s consulate in Guangzhou has been instructed to register Ugandans who are in need so that they can get assistance and facilities agreed upon with the government of China. 

He appealed to Ugandans in China to register with the embassy and embassy in Beijing so that their status can be established and they are protected . 

“It’s an appeal that is in their interest. There’s no way you can get assistance when we don’t know who you are and where you are”.


Ugandans stuck in foreign countries due to coronavirus

Minister Kutesa was asked to comment on what government of Uganda is doing to help Ugandan nationals currently trapped in different countries due to the travel restrictions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our position has been that Ugandans should stay where they are and get assistance there. We are engaging the different governments to ensure that they are looked after,” Kutesa said.

“The reason is we have closed the airport and borders. Also, airlines have stopped coming even from China. There’s no way these families who want to bring in their people they can bring them even if they have money”.

“Our appeal is – let’s assist them from where they are until the situation normalizes. That’s the government position”.

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