Gov't Rescues 23 Ugandans from Myanmar

There were joyful moments and sighs of relief at Entebbe International Airport on May 23, as 23 Ugandans who had been held captive in Myanmar returned home. They were welcomed by government officials after arriving on an Ethiopian Airlines flight around 11:22 a.m.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Vincent Bagiire Waiswa, greeted the returnees and cautioned Ugandans to be wary of fraudulent employment schemes abroad. He explained that the issue emerged in 2023 when it was reported that 23 Ugandans had been detained in Tachileik, Myanmar, after being misled by promises of lucrative jobs. They were subsequently forced into cryptocurrency scams and trafficked across borders.

In response, the Ugandan government, in collaboration with the Uganda High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the Office of the Prime Minister, engaged in diplomatic efforts with the Myanmar government, resulting in an agreement to release the Ugandans. After their release, the group was sheltered at the Thailand-Myanmar border with support from the Thai government and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), who confirmed their status as trafficking survivors and facilitated the repatriation process.

Uganda's Ambassador to Thailand, Ms. Betty Bigombe, mentioned ongoing efforts to repatriate more Ugandans still trapped in Myanmar. She noted the harsh conditions in the camps and stressed the need for a lasting solution to the increasing cases of human trafficking in Southeast Asia. The IOM Chief of Mission, Mr. Sanusi Tejan Savage, added that the returnees, consisting of five women and 18 men, underwent a month-long rehabilitation before reuniting with their families in Uganda.

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