UAE: Hundreds of expats stranded in Uganda due to flight suspensions

Many of them were supposed to return to their jobs in Dubai at the beginning of January



by

Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Sun 2 Jan 2022, 3:11 PM

Last updated: Mon 3 Jan 2022, 8:00 AM

Ugandan expats, who travelled home for their annual leaves or to spend Christmas with their families, are currently stranded after the suspension of inbound flights from the African country.

Many of them were supposed to return to their jobs in Dubai at the beginning of January.

Travellers from Uganda, along with a host of other countries, have been barred from entering Dubai since December 28, as part of efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19.

According to the Emirates airline’s website, passengers who have been in or transited through Angola, Botswana, Congo, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe in the past 14 days are not permitted to travel to or through Dubai.

Other carriers - like Uganda Airlines - have also halted their flights to the UAE.

Sahil Qudra, a maths and physics teacher at Cambridge International School Dubai, went home in mid-December to see his sick mother. He had hoped to return to the UAE before the end of 2021 so he could resume teaching when the second term begins on January 3.

However, just a few hours before their departure from Entebbe International Airport, Qudra and other passengers were shocked when they were informed that their Emirates flights had been cancelled.

“I was supposed to return to the UAE on December 28 and was already at the Entebbe airport at 12.30pm when I got the bad news that all flights from Uganda to the UAE were suspended,” said the 32-year-old teacher.

“We didn’t get any prior communication from the airline about the cancellation of the flights. I had done the two Covid tests required to travel to Dubai.”

Besides his job, Qudra is also worried about his wife and two kids who are now on their own in the UAE.

“My wife is apparently sick and she has nobody to take care of her. We hope that things get better soon, so we can be allowed to travel back to the UAE to work and also join our families,” he said.

Another Ugandan expat, Richard Kigongo - who is also a teacher at a private school in Abu Dhabi - is stranded in Kampala.

“I had come back home to see my family during the short school break in December and was scheduled to return to the UAE before the end of the year,” he said.

“Now, I am stuck here. This temporary suspension of flights from Uganda to the UAE is likely to cause devastating effects to some of us.”

Ismail Okedi - who works for a government department in Abu Dhabi and was planning to return from his annual leave at the beginning of 2022 - has no idea what to do next, now that he can’t fly back.

“I was scheduled to resume work in January. Now, the flights to the UAE have been suspended. I don’t know what to do. We’re only waiting for the UAE authorities to allow us to travel back so we can work,” he said.

Becky Lindah, a Dubai resident who works at a restaurant, said she was spending her holidays in Uganda and was scheduled to resume her duties on January 2.

“I had communicated with my boss and informed him about the current situation. I wish the UAE Government allows residents, especially those who have been fully vaccinated, to return to the country and resume work after undergoing all health check,” she said.

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In Uganda, 142,604 people have been infected with Covid-19 since the pandemic started, and 3,297 deaths have been registered, according to the country’s health ministry.


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