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Passenger traffic increases at Uganda Entebbe International Airport

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- Uganda’s Entebbe International Airport has recorded an increase of international and transit passengers, with the figure expected to grow further, according to authorities.

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the country’s air transport regulator, said in a statement on Tuesday that while the airport recorded close to 1.1 million international and transit passengers during the period January to August 2017, it has so far recorded about 1.2 million international and transit passengers from January to August 2018, representing an increment of over 120,000 passengers so far.

“The figures are likely to increase even more by the end of the year considering that the last quarter of the year (October to December) is usually busier in terms of air travel,” the CAA statement said.

The increase in the number of passengers is attributed to the country’s recent conclusion of new bilateral air service agreements with different countries such as Saudi Arabia, Israel, Switzerland and Canada.

“Some of Canada’s airlines are already having code-share agreements with international operators to Uganda. Air Tanzania recently resumed operations to Uganda and discussions are ongoing with several potential air operators to Entebbe including one who plans flights to the United Kingdom,” the statement said.

Several air operators such as Emirates, Qatar and Rwandair recently changed aircraft to Entebbe from smaller to bigger ones. Other airlines also increased flights between Entebbe and other international destinations.

A total of 1.6 million international and transit passengers were recorded in 2017 and the air transport regulator is hopeful the number will be surpassed by end of 2018.

“All these developments, including increase in frequencies by air operators and change of aircraft type from smaller to bigger types, show the growth in Uganda’s air transport industry,” the statement said.

Uganda with financing from China is upgrading Entebbe International Airport to handle more traffic and cargo. The expansion includes an extension of the passenger terminal, construction of a new cargo center and refurbishment of the airport’s two runways. 



Biometric verification exercise registers 1.1 mln refugees in Uganda

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- An eight-month biometric verification exercise of refugee numbers in Uganda has registered 1.1 million refugees and asylum seekers, a drop from the 1.4 million refugees that were previously estimated to be in the east African country.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in a joint statement with the Ugandan government on Monday attributed the drop in the number to among others death or spontaneous return of refugees to their countries of origin.

The statement also said the verification exercise cleaned up cases where there were multiple registration.

“There were also some cases of multiple registrations by refugees at the height of the emergency influxes of South Sudanese refugees between mid-2016 and mid-2017, when registration systems were sometimes overwhelmed by the sheer number and speed of arrivals. These cases were identified and removed from the database,” the statement said.

Progressively, as the verification was completed in refugee settlements, new food assistance collection procedures were rolled out by the UN World Food Program, UNHCR and government.

“Under the new system, each person receiving assistance is confirmed against biometric data collection in the verification exercise. These procedures mitigate the risk of fraud, ensuring that assistance is well managed and provided only to verified, eligible refugees and asylum seekers,” the joint statement said.

Uganda and UNHCR ordered for the audit process in March this year following allegations that some senior government officials mismanaged funds meant to support refugees and inflated the number of refugees in the country.

The UNHCR figures then showed that Uganda hosted about 1.4 million refugees, mainly from South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. 



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