Ugandan government may grant asylum to Afghan refugees

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The Ugandan government says it is considering a request from the United States to accept refugees from Afghanistan, where tens of thousands of people are attempting to flee since the Taliban took power.

“President Yoweri Museveni has expressed Uganda’s willingness to provide assistance, including temporary hosting of some of the affected persons in the current crisis, and discussions are still ongoing,” said Sam Kutesa, Uganda’s foreign affairs minister.

According to media reports, Uganda, which already has Africa’s largest refugee population, had agreed to take in about 2,000 refugees, but this was not confirmed in the ministry statement.

“Following the events of last weekend in Afghanistan, the US government reached out to several of its international partners, including Uganda, to offer assistance in the unlikely event that some Afghans and international citizens who may be evacuated need to be temporarily housed,” the statement said.

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The UN refugee agency told AFP that while it had not been involved in the talks between the US and Uganda, it was “ready to support” any refugees who arrived in the East African country. Uganda has one of the world’s largest refugee populations, with nearly 1.5 million people fleeing South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the UN.

The majority live in large refugee settlements in the sparsely populated north of the country, but Kampala, the capital, has around 81,000 urban refugees. Aid organizations have repeatedly stated that the international response to refugees in Uganda, a country with a population of 44 million people, is underfunded.

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