Twenty six (26) members of the Watoto Church Children’s Choir who were stranded in the USA due to the COVID-19 pandemic are among the group of Ugandans and that are scheduled to arrive in Uganda Saturday.
The flight from Dulles International Airport, Washington D.C is part of government’s phased repatriation of Ugandans who have been stuck in different parts of the world since March when Uganda closed its airport to passengers.
The Watoto church choir children and the other Ugandans were Friday seen off by Uganda’s Ambassador to the U.S, South America and the Caribbean, H.E Mull Katende and staff of the Uganda Embassy in Washington DC.
Also present was Deputy Chief of Mission, Amb. Santa Mary Laker-Kinyera and Permanent Representative of Uganda to the United Nations, Amb. Adonia Ayebare.
A representative of Watoto Church told SoftPower News on Saturday that the 26 Watoto children were in the U.S. as part of the regular Christian missions they carry out around the globe.
He said other Watoto children are still stranded in New Zealand and Malaysia.
“We are definitely glad to have them back home. Im sure they are also happy that they are coming back home. It is exciting news,” the Watoto representative told this news website in reaction tot the repatriation of the U.S team.
In March, Some 7 Watoto children who had been on mission in the U.K tested positive for Covid on return to Uganda. They later recovered and were discharged.
According to the Ugandan embassy in Washington, D.C., 276 Ugandans and Uganda residents and dependent pass holders departed Washington, DC, bound for Entebbe International Airport, from on Ethiopian Airlines.
A second group of 88 passengers will depart from Canada, South America and the Caribbean today, Saturday, transiting in Addis Ababa and arrive in Entebbe on Sunday.
The Ugandan embassy in Washington, D.C. says the majority of passengers are holders of US visitors visas, F1 and J1 student and research fellow visas and Ugandan resident permit holders who were unable to travel back to Uganda when the airport was closed.
The Uganda Embassies in North America also registered a number of stranded Ugandans who had traveled for medical reasons.
“Given the closure of numerous borders in both North and South America due to COVID-19 concerns and visa limitations of several of the affected persons, it was necessary to create multiple departure locations, to ensure that everyone who could do so was afforded an opportunity to return,” a statement by the Ugandan embassy in Washington D.C states.
Ambassador Katende explained that the registration and repatriation process, though complex, due to the size of the area of accreditation, had been made possible by the seamless coordination and teamwork of the staff at the three Embassies of Uganda in Washington, DC, New York and Ottawa.
He paid tribute to his colleagues Amb. Adonia Ayebare (PR New York) and Amb. Jane Ruth Acheng (Ottawa), the management of Ethiopian Airlines and Mr. Mukesh Sahu of Satguru Travel Solutions for their tireless efforts to reach out and provide guidance to the stranded Ugandans.