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British Ugandan Asians at 50

Highlighting the experience of British Ugandan Asians in and after 1972, and the many volunteers who helped them.

Timeline of 1972 Events

Chronology Of The Expulsion Of Asians From Uganda

1959
January 1

Boycott

Bugandan tribal boycott of non-African shops.

1962
October 9

Ugandan Independence

Ugandan Independence

1966
May 24

Coup

Milton Obote becomes President

1969
January 1

Declaration

Separate declarations by Obote that Ugandan Asians with British passports must leave the country.

February 1

Trade Licensing Act

Trade Licensing Act: non-citizens limited to specific areas of business and trade

1970
January 1

Immigration Act

Immigration Act – all Asians without Ugandan passports need a permit to remain in the country

1971
January 25

Coup

General Idi Amin Dada becomes President

 

October 1

Indian Census

Indian Census (the ‘Cattle Count’) – Asians forced to visit special camps to be counted

December 7

‘Indian Conference’

Amin lists ‘charges’ against the Asian community

1972
January 4

Meeting

Asian leaders meet with Amin.

August 4

Amin speech

Uganda had no place for Asians.

 

August 5

Amin ultimatum

Amin announcement – UK passport holders must leave within ninety days

August 8

India refuses entry

India bars Ugandan Asians with British passports from entering the country.

August 9

British concerns

Announcement that Ugandan Asians with Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi passports must also leave

August 10

Kenya closes the border

Those with Ugandan passports come under the threat of expulsion

August 13

Britain accepts partial responsibility

Britain’s envoy, Geoffrey Ripon, announced from a press conference at Kampala that the government would accept responsibility for UK passport holders, but not for any other Ugandan Asians.

August 14

Amin steps up the pressure

Amin says of Asians with Ugandan passports, ‘If all of them go, I’ll be very, very happy’

August 15

British moral and legal declaration

Geoffrey Ripon declares that ‘The British Government accepts it has a legal duty and moral responsibility’ to accept Ugandan Asians with British passports

August 16

Negotiations with airlines

Preparations for the British airlift start; Enoch Powell states, ‘The so-called British passports do not entitle them to enter Britain’

August 18

Further discussions

British government announces plans to establish a Ugandan Resettlement Board

August 20

UN announcement

United Nations announce that if those with Ugandan passports are expelled, they will qualify for refugee status as stateless.

August 21

Voluntary Coordinating Committee established

A Coordinating Committee for the Welfare of Evacuees from Uganda is set up, representing 40 charities, faith-based bodies and immigrant groups.

August 23

Airline intervention

Seven British airlines announce that they will run a co-ordinated airlift of expellees to the UK.

August 23

Appointment of Sir Charles Cunningham

The Home Office announces the appointment of Sir Charles Cunningham, a former Permanent Under-Secretary of State in the Home Office, as Chairman of the Ugandan Resettlement Board. Some of the other members of the board are also announced: Mr. Mark Bonham Carter, Chairman of the Community Relations Commission and Mr. Douglas Tilbe of the Co-ordinating Committee for the Welfare of Evacuees from Uganda, and Mr. Praful Patel, Secretary of the All-Party Committee on United Kingdom Citizenship. Seven British airlines tell the Department of Trade and Industry that they would work together to organise the airlift of 50,000 Asians from Uganda at £70 per passenger.

August 24

Canadian offer

Canada announces that it will accept a number of Asians

August 27

Businesses seized

Amin announces he will seize all foreign-owned businesses.

August 29

Loan freeze

Britain freezes planned £10 million loan to Uganda.

September 1

‘not a single Ugandan shilling’

Amin announces that ‘not a single Ugandan shilling’ will leave the country.

September 9

Entebbe Airlift

First airlift of Ugandan Asians from Entebbe Airport.

September 10

Heath confirms resettlement

Prime Minister Edward Heath publicly confirms that UK passport holders will be admitted for settlement.

September 11

Airlift given go-ahead

British government finalises plans for the airlift.

September 18

First arrivals at Stansted

First arrival of 193 Ugandan Asians under the care of the Uganda Resettlement Board, take to Stradishall reception centre.

November 8

Deadline reached

Amin’s deadline; under 1,000 Asians remain in Uganda.

November 17

Over twenty-thousand resettled

Ugandan Resettlement Board announces that a total of 27,200 Ugandan Asians have arrived; 21,000 of these have been processed through URB reception and resettlement centres.

November 30

Heath speech

PM Edward Heath gives speech on Ugandan Asians at Conservative Party Rally.

Last modified: 27th july 2022

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