Tanzania: 27 Ugandans Detained in China Over Expired Visas

A total of 27 Ugandans are stuck in different detention facilities in China after they were arrested over illegal stay in the country. This follows the expiry of their visas.

Sources close to Uganda's embassy in Beijing, China, who spoke on condition of anonymity, say those detained include students, who completed their studies and were set to come back but the lockdown restrictions could not allow them to travel.

"Majority of these are detained in Hebei and Beijing on cases related to overstay of their visas and illegal employment," a September 8 letter from the embassy to the Chinese government says.

"While the embassy appreciates that these are illegal cases which must be treated within the confines of the laws of the People's Republic of China, the Covid-19 travel challenges have severely affected the repatriation/deportation processes leading to their lengthy stay in detention of up to four months," it adds.

The embassy says it is ready to work with its Chinese counterparts to ensure that the affected Ugandans are released and repatriated.

In Kampala, the Foreign Affairs ministry has reportedly instructed the embassy in Beijing to ensure that the detained Ugandans are released and repatriated.

Reaction

Efforts to reach Mr Henry Oryem Okello, the State Minister of Foreign Affairs in-charge of international relations, for a comment were futile as he did not respond to our repeated calls.

However, the permanent secretary of the ministry, Mr Vincent Bagire, confirmed the developments and said the embassy in Beijing was following up the matter.

He, however, said the decision of whether to release the Ugandans or not entirely lies with the Chinese government.

"Our mission in China is following up. It's a process that we don't control," he said.

Officials in the Foreign Affairs ministry in Kampala did not tell us how many Ugandans are in China and how many could face the wrath of the law because of expiry of their visas.

The spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in Uganda, Mr Fang Yi, said: "The embassy has taken note of issues you have raised. We are verifying the detailed situation through various channels. Given the fraternal relations between our two countries, I believe we will find a proper settlement to this issue. We will keep in touch with the Uganda side."

Reporting by Franklin Draku

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