ON THIS DAY    18 September      Graphics version >>   BBC News >>
Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
1972: Expelled Ugandans arrive in UK

The first Ugandan refugees fleeing the persecution of the country's military dictatorship have arrived in Britain.

The 55,000-strong Asian community were ordered in August to leave the country within 90 days by President Idi Amin.

Over half of them have British passports and will be re-housed in the UK by the Ugandan Resettlement Board.

President Amin has denounced the Ugandan Asians as "bloodsuckers", and warned that any remaining in the country after 8 November risk being imprisoned in military camps.

One hundred and ninety-three refugees landed at 0930 GMT at Stansted airport in Essex, the first of hundreds of flights that will carry out the evacuation.

Some families had made their own arrangements for accommodation, but others were taken to an RAF camp at Stradishall in Suffolk.

They were greeted by the resettlement board chairman, Sir Charles Cunningham.

Gun point

Most of the plane's occupants were exhausted by the nine-hour flight and the harassment by President Amin's troops in their last hours in Uganda.

Kassem Osman - who arrived with his wife, two brothers and their families - said they had been robbed by the soldiers.

"On the way to the airport the coach was stopped by troops seven time and we were all held at gun point," he said.

Another refugee - a retired government clerk from the Ugandan capital, Kampala - told reporters how he had been left penniless.

"I had a 250 gold watch taken off my wrist while I was on my way to Entebbe airport and every piece of Ugandan money stolen from my wallet," he said.

In Context
Idi Amin's rule in Uganda - which ended when he was overthrown in 1979 - was one of the African country's most brutal periods.

There were many objections to the arrival of the Ugandan Asians in the UK - Leicester council even took out newspaper advertisements warning them not to come to the city seeking jobs and homes.

But their re-settlement came to be viewed as a success story for British immigration and in 1991 President Yoweri Museveni invited the expelled community to "return home" to help rebuild the economy.

One high profile refugee who returned was the millionaire entrepreneur Nazmu Virani.

Idi Amin died in in Jeddah in August 2003.


Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
^^ Back to top |