Some Ugandans in China have either been forced out of the country or compelled to live on the streets after they were kicked out of low-cost hotels and apartments in China, Sunday Monitor reported.
According to the report, any one holding a Ugandan, Nigerian or a passport of some other countries is a target of authorities in China.
The Asian economic giant is cracking down on crime they say is orchestrated by foreigners.
Monitor reports that the months of June and July have been particularly hard not only for Ugandans, but also other Africans.
Some of the Ugandans in China told Monitor they were not only forced to sleep on the streets, but also struggle to get what to eat because restaurants that prepare African food have since been closed on the orders of Chinese authorities.
The system in areas with a high concentration of Africans has been on for the last at least five years but was escalated in June targeting mainly Ugandans and Nigerians.
Ugandans have since been advised to seek accommodation in four and five start hotels “if they have come to do business in China”.
The major problem is in Guangzhou, the capital city of Guangdong Province, which has the largest concentration of African immigrants and traders of any city in China and Asia, with incidents of “kicking out Africans” first reported in Guangyuan Xi Lu, Baiyun District, and Guangzhou City.
Since 2013, the Chinese government, through the local police, has been conducting immigration enforcement sweeps with the number of Africans in Guangzhou reportedly on the decline since 2014, after stricter immigration laws and policies were implemented.
One notice posted on the entrance of a hotel frequented by Ugandans, issued on July 5, reads: “Dear guests, because of the notice of receiving from higher level notice [sic], our apartment is not allowed to receive African guests since July 5. The guests from African countries will be asked to check out before July 6. Please forgive me [sic] for the inconvenience I [sic] have made to [sic] you.”
Hotels such as Xiaobo, Yuyanga and Tongtong, among others, frequented by Africans have been affected.
In Guangzhou’s Xiaobei District, popularly-known as “Little Africa,” where many Africans congregate, especially at the Elephant Mall, business has been unusual. The purge on Africans saw all “small” African shops closed.
Roadblocks were also conducted in various towns and taxis transporting black people stopped, and passports confiscated from passengers.
“They take your passport and when it is returned, the visa is cancelled,” a Ugandan told Sunday Monitor.
The paper reported allegations that foreign nationals pay between $5,000 (about Shs18m) and $20,000 (Shs73m) to rogue immigration officials to acquire Ugandan passports.
They use these as travel documents to go and engage in unscrupulous activities.
Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control spokesperson Jacob Siminyu told Sunday Monitor that they issue passports lawfully and to only Ugandans, but that some Ugandans lose the passports to unscrupulous non-Ugandans either deliberately or unintentionally.
“Government of Uganda issues genuine passports to Ugandans, which get out of their hands, in one way or another, into the hands of the wrong people, including Nigerians. Passports can be lost through loss, theft or through trafficking in persons because passports are held as a mechanism of control of the victims. We have come across evidence that once the passport gets into wrong hands, then the criminals illegally impose another film of the similar bio data like that of the original holder but with a different passport photo, that of the impostor,” Siminyu said.
He added: “The assumption is that Chinese immigration authorities can hardly differentiate between blacks. Once the impostor (Nigerian) is arrested, the Chinese are not under any obligation to verify the Citizenship but consider the impostor a Ugandan on the face of it, even when he is visibly not the owner of the passport.”
He asked Ugandans to ensure that they keep their passports under key and lock so that they don’t land into un-authorised or wrong hands.
“Unfortunately once trafficking in persons is still diverse, you cannot avoid the traffickers landing their hands on the passports of their victims.”
Source: Sunday Monitor