On Saturday, a group of 12 Ugandans who were repatriated from Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), jetted into the country, with some of them unable to walk.
Others could not hold back their tears as they shared accounts of their dreadful experiences while in the detention centres.
Despite the failed Dubai concert to raise funds to help in the repatriation of all the detained Ugandans in UAE, the president of National Unity Platform (NUP) party, Mr Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, said his efforts are bearing fruit.
Receiving the returnees on Saturday at his home in Magere, Kasangati Town Council in Wakiso District, Mr Kyagulanyi urged Ugandans not to politicise the campaign since everyone, irrespective of their political or religious affiliations, is affected.
“When I went to Dubai, I got a chance to visit some detention centres and I witnessed the sorry state in which our people are living,” he said.
“This is why I call for a joint effort to return these people back home safely. Government too should extend a hand,” he added.
The Opposition leader said they had a meeting with the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament and legislators affiliated to NUP, who agreed that each of them buys an air ticket for a Ugandan detained in UAE.
Among the returnees were Hadijah Nakayima from Butambala, Winfred Mbabazi from Isingiro, Justine Muhimba from Mbale and Caroline Asiimwe from Fort Portal.
Others were Betty Nantongo (Buikwe), Catherine Kajumba (Fort Portal), Rita Nabisere and one Nabuuma from Matugga, among others.
According to the NUP secretary general, Mr Lewis Rubongoya, this was the first group to be repatriated in the campaign, with two more groups expected today and another tomorrow.
“It is a pleasure to receive the first group of Ugandans who have been detained in Dubai, this campaign is facilitated by people, including the NUP president who championed it with Shs10m. We shall be receiving other groups in the coming days,” he said.
“I, therefore, appeal to everyone to do something during this campaign. If you cannot raise money, at least create the awareness,” Mr Rubongoya added.
One of the returnees, Ms Nabuuma, was unable to walk and according to one of her friends, her health deteriorated due to poor living conditions.
She also told this publication that about 150 Ugandans are still stranded in the same detention centre where she was kept.
In an interview, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Mr Aggrey Kibenge, said they are aware of the detained Ugandans in UAE.
“According to the records, only 20,000 out of more than100,000 Ugandans in UAE were externalised by registered companies. This means that more than 80,000 Ugandans in the UAE cannot be accounted for by government,” Mr Kibenge said.
He also advised Ugandan migrant workers to always present themselves to the authorities, especially at the Ugandan embassies in respective countries, so that they can be helped, other than becoming fugitives and ending up in prisons and detention centres.
“Through our embassies together with the UAE government, we have managed to repatriate more than1,000 people back to Uganda in the last two months. Some had no travel documents and the government provided them at no cost…,” Mr Kibenge remarked.