At least 25 Eritrean and Ethiopian nationals have been rescued from alleged traffickers in two separate operations at Entebbe airport and the Busia border point.
Derrick Kigenyi, the deputy national coordinator in the Internal Affairs ministry, says that at the Busia porous border, eight Eritreans were intercepted while attempting to enter Uganda without official travel documents. Among them were five males and three females.
He explains that a special hire vehicle was waiting on the Ugandan side to transport them to Kampala but the driver fled the scene upon learning that the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control (DCIC) and the police had intercepted the group.
In a separate operation at Entebbe airport, DCIC and crime intelligence rescued 17 Ethiopians en route to Beirut, Lebanon. Authorities became suspicious as there was no record of their entry into Uganda.
“We established that five of the 17 Ethiopian were trafficked earlier and kept in Namasuba for weeks. The other 12 came through a porous border at Busia and were connected to the five. The whole group proceeded to Entebbe airport but they could not explain how they entered Uganda,” Kigenyi said.
Authorities say there has been an increase in the trafficking of foreigners through Entebbe airport, with victims often being deceived with promises of employment in Ugandan cities such as Kampala, Masaka, Mbarara, Mbale, or Fort Portal.
Subsequently, the traffickers mislead them by offering supposed job opportunities in Lebanon, Jordan, and sometimes Egypt. Authorities have been able to identify these victims by checking their passports, which lack exit and entry stamps from their respective countries and even at Ugandan borders.
Additionally, many victims have no knowledge of their final destination since they are given travel passes at the airport. Simon Peter Mundeyi, the spokesperson for the ministry of Internal Affairs, earlier on said an Eritrean national was arrested with over 80 passports. To date, the ministry is yet to determine the owners of the passports.