At least 45 Ugandan pregnant women and mothers with babies have been deported from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) following several weeks of detention at the Dubai Central Jail (Al Awir) where they were stuck.
Over 1,000 Ugandans were imprisoned at the facility, pending processing of their travel documents back to Uganda. Uganda earns $900m per year from remittances of citizens working in the Middle East, according to Betty Amongi, the Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development.
Sources in UAE say that many Ugandans, mainly women who went to seek employment in the Middle East, have been living on the streets in Dubai and other cities, without visa and passports.
The UAE authorities recently offered free tickets to all illegal residents to be flown to their countries of origin on condition that they willingly submit themselves to the immigration authorities for scrutiny.
The first group of 29 deportees left Dubai International Airport on August 24 and landed at Entebbe International Airport, giving hope that more would return home.
Henry Mayega, Uganda’s Consul General in Dubai on Monday said priority had been given to pregnant women and mothers and that at least 45 had been given travel documents to return home.
He, however, said whoever claimed to be pregnant had to undergo a test to confirm the pregnancy before clearance.
“All pregnant women have been taken out of Al Awir centre and are due to fly home today,” Mayega said.
He added that after getting more travel forms from the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Kampala, there was hope that more Ugandans would be facilitated to return home.
“We now have enough travel documents for everyone,” he said.
He said 40 of the 110 men did not have passports.