Gov't Successfully Repatriates Ugandans Trafficked to Myanmar

Gov't Successfully Repatriates Ugandans Trafficked to Myanmar

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced the successful repatriation of Ugandan citizens who were victims of human trafficking in Myanmar.

Speaking at Entebbe International Airport during the arrival of the victims of trafficking (VOT), Permanent Secretary Mr. Bagiire Vincent Waiswa urged Ugandans to be vigilant against fraudulent employment schemes.

“The Ministry, working with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, continues to prevent human trafficking through regional and international cooperation,” he emphasized.

The repatriation follows intensive diplomatic engagements initiated during the 19th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement held in Kampala in January 2024.

Hon. John Mulimba, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs for Regional Cooperation, and Ambassador Dr. Betty Bigombe, Uganda’s Ambassador to Thailand with residence in Kuala Lumpur, met with Myanmar's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr. U Than Swe, to address concerns regarding the safety, rescue, and return of the incarcerated Ugandan citizens.

The plight of these Ugandans came to light in 2023 when reports emerged that twenty-three Ugandans were being held in Tachileik, Myanmar.

They had been lured with promises of high-paying jobs but were subsequently forced into cryptocurrency scams and smuggled across borders.

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, initiated diplomatic efforts with Myanmar, leading to an agreement for their release.

PS Bagiire expressed gratitude to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for their crucial support, which included providing shelter and arranging travel back to Uganda.

He also thanked the Government of Thailand for waiving overstay visa fees and pardoning the rescued repatriates without work permits.

“Following their release, the victims were sheltered at the Thailand-Myanmar border, with assistance from the Thai government and the IOM. Thai authorities confirmed the victims' status as trafficking survivors, enabling the repatriation process to commence,” the Permanent Secretary highlighted.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs extends heartfelt thanks to the Government of Thailand, the IOM, and particularly H.E. President Museveni, for their invaluable support. Special recognition goes to Amb. Dr. Betty Bigombe for her relentless efforts,” PS Bagiire further remarked.