Why the Asians were expelled from Uganda in 1972 by Idi Amin and how they ended up in UK
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Former President Amin forced tens of thousands of people to leave Uganda and it brought panic, heartache, and fear as it was a country they loved - and a place they called home.

ITV News Central explores and explains what happened in 1972 and why Asians were expelled from their country.

In 1972 there were around 80,000 Ugandans of Indian descent in the country - 23,000 of which had their applications for citizenship both processed and accepted.

Ugandan Asians became one of the largest groups of refugees ever to be accepted into the UK.

In 1972, Amin accused a minority of Asians of being disloyal and for also “sabotaging Uganda’s economy and encouraging corruption”.

These claims have been disputed on numerous occasions by Indian leaders. He also defended the expulsion by arguing he was “giving Uganda back to ethnic Ugandans”. 

The British, having brought Indians to the region, had invested in the education of the Asian minority during colonial times in preference to the indigenous Ugandans. 

By the early 1970s, many Indians in Southeast Africa and Uganda were employed in the sartorial and banking businesses and Indophobia was already ingrained by the start of President Amin’s rule in 1971.

While not all Ugandan Asians were well off, they were on average better off than the indigenous communities. They constituted 1% of the population while earning a fifth of the national income. 

Military dictator Amin had taken control of Uganda under a coup in 1971. 

After this, he carried out a census of Asians in Uganda and publicly accused them of economic misconduct and ethnic insularity. In 1972 Amin expelled all Asians from Uganda and seized their property. 

In response, Britain agreed to allow the entry of all of those refugees that it could not persuade other countries to accept.

Nila Raja arrived in the UK with her three children

On August 4, 1972 - Amin declared that Britain would need to take on the responsibility of caring for British subjects who were of Asian origin. He gave British subjects a deadline of three months to leave, which meant November 8, 1972. 

August 9, 1972 - The policy was expanded to include citizens of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

The impact of the expulsion?

The population declined dramatically when Amin ordered the expulsion of all non-citizen Asians and later those who held Ugandan citizenship.

Although the latter group's expulsion order was eventually rescinded, the majority still left the country. By the end of the year, only a small number of Asians remained in Uganda.

redistributed them to the remaining African population.

For a relatively short time, his actions were immensely popular with most Ugandans, but the country recovered slowly from the economic consequences of this. 

In the early 1990s, the Ugandan government formally invited the expelled Asian community to return; thousands did so, and some had their property returned to them. 

A School ID card a Ugandan Asian brought to the UK

Many of those who were expelled were citizens of the UK and colonies (50,000 were British passport holders) and 27,200 chose to emigrate to the United Kingdom. 

The British government ultimately permitted 27,000 to move to the UK through the Uganda Resettlement Board.

There were objections to the arrival of the Ugandan Asians in the UK - Leicester City Council even took out newspaper advertisements at the time warning them not to come to the city seeking jobs and homes.

But their re-settlement came to be viewed as a success story for British immigration and in 1991 President Yoweri Museveni invited the expelled community to "return home" to help rebuild the economy.

On September 18, 1972 - 193 refugees landed at 9.30 am at Stansted Airport, the first of hundreds of flights that would carry out the evacuation.

The first arrivals to disembark from a chartered aircraft were these families about to start a new life away from the turmoil of Uganda

Some families had made their own arrangements for accommodation, but others were taken to an RAF camp at Stradishall in Suffolk.


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