30 Years
HomeEvents of 1972Chronology

Chronology Of The Expulsion Of Asians From Uganda

August 5th - November 8th 1972

August 4 President Amin of Uganda announces to troops that he would ask Britain to assume responsibility for all Asians of British nationality in Uganda. He said there was no room in Uganda for British-Asians. He explained that on the eve of his announcement he had had a dream in which God had told him that the Asian issue in Uganda had reached explosive proportions and that he must act immediately to save the situation.
August 5 President Amin in a broadcast announces that he would summon the UK High Commissioner in Uganda, Mr. Richard Slater, and ask him to arrange for the repatriation of Asian holders of British Passports within 3 months.
August 6 India bars 50,000 British-Asians from Uganda from entering India, claiming that they are primarily Britain's responsibility.
August 7 Sir Alec Douglas-Home, the Foreign Secretary, tells the House of Commons that he has asked the British High Commissioner in Uganda to see President Amin to obtain an "indication of Uganda's situation". He added his Government had not received official communication from the Ugandan Government. He claims that expulsions of Asians may lead to a review of all economic arrangements with Uganda. President Amin confirms that others will be affected "All non-nationals who are sabotaging the economy will also have to leave in three months time."
August 8 Kenya seals the border with Uganda to keep out expelled Asians . Kenya Vice President Daniel Moi declares : "Kenya is not a dumping ground for citizens of other countries." President Amin says that he is determined to 'teach Britain a lesson'. He explained 'if it were not for the British these Asians would not have been faced with the situation in which they have found themselves now'.
August 9

President Amin announces that he has signed a decree revoking with effect from today all entry permits and certificates of residence of non-Uganda citizens of Asian origin. In addition to British nationals, those of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationality would also have to leave Uganda.

Mr. Robert Carr, the Home Secretary and Lord President of the Council, announces that the British Government is setting up a standing group of ministers and officials 'to watch the matter from day to day and to make sure that all action is taken to try to avert this terrible threat overhanging these people and to make contingency plans necessary if President Amin does not yield to reason and appeal.'

August 10 The Home Secretary, tightens immigration of Asians from East Africa by summoning representatives of 23 airlines to the Home office...Asians of Ugandan nationality also come under threat of expulsion from Uganda. In response to a question from a journalist, Idi Amin says, 'their citizenship is to be reviewed by the Uganda Government'.
August 11

Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs announces in the House Of Lords that Mr Geoffrey Rippon, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, would leave this evening to visit Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania between Aug 11 and Aug. 15 and would meet President Amin in Kampala in an attempt to persuade him to re-consider his expulsion of Asians of British nationality.

The Government of India declares that visas will be required for Asian British Passport holders to enter the country.

August 12 In an effort to persuade President Amin to change his mind about expelling Asians from Uganda, Mr Rippon, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, flew to Kampala last night.
August 13

Sir Edward Heath, the Prime Minister, puts into top gear departmental machinery which has been investigating ways of handling the great influx of immigrants. Mr. Heath keeps in touch with Mr. Rippon from Chequers throughout the weekend.

Mr Rippon tells a press conference in Kampala that Britain has decided in principle to admit some 50,000 Asians holding British Passports if they are expelled. 'We will accept our responsibilities and we have a responsibility, which we have always accepted for people who hold UK passports.' He continued 'we have got to do what we can to protect them and to secure them and to give them sanctuary'

Britain decides to refer to the United Nations the case of the British- Asians facing expulsion from Uganda. Dispute to be referred to the United Nations.

August 14

Mr Geoffrey Rippon after receiving a personal invitation from President Amin extends his stay in East Africa and returns to Uganda.

Referring to the 23,000 Asians with Ugandan nationality, President Amin says, 'I see no more future for them in Uganda than for the others'. 'If all of them go I'll be very, very happy' he tells reporters.

August 15 A meeting was held in Kampala between President Amin and Mr Rippon. Following the meeting President Amin told a press conference 'I am not changing my mind that Asians who are British will have to go to England and he, Mr Rippon, has accepted that. My decision of 90 days still stands'. Mr Rippon tells the press conference that Britain accepted a legal duty and a moral responsibility towards the Asians holding British Passports.
August 16

Preparations for an airlift of British Asians from Uganda start. Mr. Rippon arrives back in Britain and meets at Chequers with Mr. Heath, Mr. Carr and Mr. Godber, the Minister of State at the Foreign Office.

Mr. Enoch Powell, Conservative MP for Wolverhampton South-West, rejects any obligation to British-Asians and says that there are no grounds for admitting them to the United Kingdom. He says 'the so-called British passports do not entitle them to enter Britain'.

August 17

Mr. John Ennals, Director of the United Kingdom Immigrant Advisory Service, says that Asians expelled from Uganda could be a benefit for Britain. Many of them spoke English and had skills that could be very useful in Britain. He was speaking after a meeting where 20 organisations connected with community relations and immigrant welfare agreed to co-operate in helping to settle any British-Asians from Uganda.. Included among them were the Race Relations Board, the Community Relations Commission, the National Council of Social Service, the British Council of Churches and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants.

Mr. Praful Patel, Secretary of the All-Party Committee on United Kingdom Citizenship, said that a analysis of the British-Asians in Uganda showed that 1,867 were classed as semi-skilled, 2,032 skilled or technical assistants, 1,493 were in the professional or senior management class and 5,000 were small traders or industrialists.

August 18

Immigrant groups praise plan to settle Asians. Mr Robert Carr, the Home Secretary, announced that the government would establish a special board to handle the resettlement of British Asian nationals.

Mr. Praful Patel, secretary of the All-Party Committee on United Kingdom Citizenship, said that the decision 'was in the highest traditions of justice and fair play so often shown by the British people. The decision to accept responsibility for these people is a tremendous credit to the Government. It vindicates our trust in them. The creation of the (resettlement) board means that our efforts can be co-ordinated for the first time.

August 19

Mr. Carr emphasizes that the British Government accepts responsibility only for holders of United Kingdom passports and their dependents. "We cannot accept particular responsibility 'for stateless citizens' for a problem that belongs to the world".

The right wing Monday Club reminds the Prime Minister, Mr. Heath, of the pledges given in the 1970 Conservative Party manifesto 'that there will be no further large-scale permanent immigration'.

August 20 The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says that if 23,000 Asians of Ugandan nationality are expelled they will become stateless and so qualify in principle for assistance under the High Commissioner's mandate. The High Commissioner, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan also points out that its responsibilities were not confined to Asians. There are nearly 180,000 African refugees mainly from the Sudan (71,000), Rwanda (72,000) and Zaire (30,000). President Amin says in a speech that they too will have to leave.
August 21 A "Co-ordinating Committee for the welfare of Evacuees from Uganda" a body representing 40 welfare immigrant and charitable organisations, is set up under the chairmanship of Mr Douglas Tilbe.
August 22
August 22

President Amin rejects Ugandan university students' plea to allow Asian citizens of Uganda to remain in the country. The President of the National Union of Students, Mr. Kisimba Masiko and the President of the Makerere Students Guild, Mr. Tumusiime Mutebile appealed to the President saying that all Uganda citizens were the responsibility of the Uganda Government regardless of race or creed. Their appeal is rejected.

Evening Standard - August 22nd 1972 British envoy announces Uganda airlift plans 15,000 Asians here in 'Weeks'
Read More....

August 23 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

Mr. Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada announces that Canada is prepared to accept 'a number' of Asians from Uganda. Mr. Bryce Mackasey, Minister for Immigration, says after a cabinet meeting that the Canadian Government was reviewing the 50-point system used to decide whether intending immigrants can enter the country. The Canadian Government hoped that many Asians would qualify on the basis of skills, education and assets. Mr. Mackasey said that if it were not for immigration many Canadians including himself would not be in Canada today.

There were public protests in Smithfield, London, against the immigration of Asians, supported by the National Front.

August 25

Mr Bernard Perkins, one of the 12 members of the Community Relations Commission resigns over the decision to allow British Asians into Britain from Uganda. He complains in his letter of resignation that the influx would do more harm to the cause of community relations than a myriad of speeches by Enoch Powell, the Tory MP against admitting the British-Asians from Uganda.

President Amin extends stay for Asian non- citizens, holding important positions for another year.

August 26 Canada announces that a team of Immigration officials is on its way to Uganda from the Middle East to accelerate the processing of applications from Asians wishing to come to Canada. Mr. Trudeau says the Immigration Minister has been authorised to institute a programme of admission on an emergency basis if it is necessary. Sources say that Canada is likely to take upto 5,000 Asians.
August 27

President Amin announces that he will seize all foreign-owned businesses.

Mr. Charles Adams, Assistant Head of the Nationalities Department at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, says at a press conference in Kampala that red tape has been slashed and all 50,000 British-Asians could be processed before the November 7th deadline set by President Amin. He says, 'We can clear the lot if we pull out the stops and we are pulling out the stops. We are taking this very seriously'.

August 28

President Amin rules that all non-citizens are to fly by East African Airways. Mr. David Mwiraria, Chairman of the East African Civil Aviation board is reported today as saying that East African Airways had 'the right to half the traffic.'

In a telegram to Sir Charles Cunningham, chairman of the Ugandan Resettlement Board, Dr. Akram Syeed, the only Asian member of the Community Relations Commission, asks for the establishment of Regional Resettlement Boards to help with evacuees from Uganda.

August 29

Sir Alec Douglas-Home (Foreign Secretary) freezes a £10 million loan to Uganda.

Mr. Henry Brind, Deputy British High Commissioner in Uganda, announces that 485 Asians had been processed with entry permits to date.

Mr. Joseph Godber, Minister of State at the Foreign Office flies to Geneva for talks with Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and then flies on to Vienna to meet Dr. Kurt Waldheim, the Secretary General of the United Nations.

August 31 Sir Alec Douglas-Home, in a television broadcast, declares "Successive British Governments have made it clear that in the last resort if these people (Asians in Uganda holding British Passports) were ever expelled we accepted an obligation to take them in, and to go back on that would be to break the word solemnly given by successive British Governments.... Under international law a state has a duty to accept those of it's nationals who have nowhere else to go".
September 1 President Amin aims to make Uganda "economically independent". " Not a single Ugandan Shilling to leave" was the notice given to passengers when leaving the country.
September 3 Mr Robert Carr (Home Secretary) put in charge of arrangements for the resettlement of Ugandan Asians.
September 4 United Kingdom asks 50 countries to help in settling the expelled Asians.
September 5 President Amin accuses Britain of plotting to have him assassinated.
September 6 President Kuanda of Zambia declares his support of UN sanctions. Second official meeting of the Ugandan Resettlement Board held yesterday.
September 8 Mr Carr announces that the details of the plan being made by the Uganda Resettlement Board, voluntary organisations and others for the orderly reception of U.K passport holders Reception Teams from various organisations such as WRVS, the Red Cross, St John's Ambulance and from the bodies would be available as soon as they were needed at Heathrow, Gatwick, and Stanstead airport.
September 11 Plans for airlifting British Asians to the UK by East African Airways, in collaboration with BOAC and British Caledonian Airways are finalised.
September 13 President Amin announces plans to put Asians who are still in Uganda after the deadline, into concentration camps.
September 14 Third meeting of Uganda Resettlement Board to discuss the latest reception and resettlement arrangements including the provision for loans and meeting the extra costs burdened on the local authorities.
September 17 Tanzania invades three towns in South West Uganda while 20 Britons are detained in Uganda.
September 18 The first 193 British Asians from Uganda arrive at Stanstead Airport, of whom just over half go to the reception camp at Stradishall, while the rest make their own arrangements.
September 19 The elaborate reception arrangements for the thousands of British Asians expelled from Uganda survived their opening test yesterday without any serious setback. Less than £50 benefits were paid out as the first 193 weary exiles landed at Stansted Airport.
September 20

Mr Enoch Powell, MP, challenges the view of Britain's legal obligations.

Mr Carr, Home Secretary, estimates 10,000 families settling in Britain, councils are therefore to receive the refund of costs for one year

September 21 Increasing strain in towns over housing employment and social services.
September 22

Big Daddy Idi Amin of Uganda proved finally to the world yesterday that he is a power mad dictator without a shred of humanity.

More than 8,000 Asians have been given 48 hours to leave the country.

September 25

Fourth meeting of the Uganda Resettlement Board.

Main discussion was on how to accommodate the Asians arriving from Uganda and as a result plans were made to establish transit camps for 12,000 Asians.

September 26 Mr G. H. Hawkins, British diplomat, expelled from Uganda.
September 27 Sir Alec Douglas-Home, Foreign Secretary, asks the United Nations General Assembly, then holding it's 27th session, to give urgent consideration to the problem of the British Asians in Uganda.
September 29 President Mobutu of Zaire offers to improve the way that Asians are being treated in Uganda.
October 3 After negotiations with President Mobutu, President Amin agrees to postpone the deadline, drop his threat to set up camps and permit the Asians the transfer of their assets.
October 5 In order to speed-up the deportation of Asians, a checking exercise of the citizenship of Asians, by squads of police is carried out.
October 9 Ugandan Independence Day
October 12 Mr Richard Slater, British High Commissioner, is asked to leave Kampala as President Amin accuses him of being responsible for the propaganda against Uganda.
October 16

The United Kingdom High Commission in Kampala announces it will grant entry certificates to those Asians who had not renounced British Nationality, not acquired Ugandan nationality and had acquired no other nationality. It is also announced that entry certificates will be issued to the wives or dependants who are British Citizens but those husbands or fathers who are not British Citizens.

President Amin orders British professors to leave Uganda.

October 17 Asians expelled from Uganda, face up to two years imprisonment and 50,000 shillings as a fine, if they attempt to sell their business privately.
October 25 General Amin issues decrees on Asians.
Idi Amin decrees that all Asians still in Uganda report to specific places in the city and major towns to be registered. All the British Asians and the majority of those with Ugandan nationality have left. Less than 1,000 Asians are still in Uganda and most of these are either of Ugandan nationality or expatriates from countries other than the United Kingdom. Idi Amin has threatened to put any Asians still in Uganda after the deadline in concentration camps until the British Government comes and takes them. But this threat is not carried out.
November 9 Mr David Lane, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Home Office, says in a written reply that so far 1,100 employers have offered jobs to Asians, more than 2,000 offers of accommodation have come from private sources and that local authorities have offered 1,600 dwellings.
November 17 The Ugandan Resettlement Board announces that the final total of Asians who have arrived in Britain is 27,200 of whom approximately 21,000 have been received in reception camps.