The British Asian Trust has announced that a national commemorative event marking the 50th anniversary of the arrival of British Asians from Uganda in the UK will be held at The Guildhall in London on September 18 .
The event is being organised in collaboration with British Ugandan Asians at 50, an initiative supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
On August 4, 1972, some 60,000 Ugandan Asians were given 90 days’ notice to leave the country by former Ugandan president General Idi Amin.
Almost half arrived and settled in the UK thereafter.
The first evacuation flight organised by the UK government landed at Stansted Airport on September 18, 1972, carrying 193 passengers.
Sixteen temporary resettlement and reception camps were set up around the country with 63 voluntary sector organisations mobilised to provide humanitarian support for the evacuees.
Thousands of private individuals also volunteered, providing warm clothes, activities for children, English language teaching and other support. A specially formed body, the Uganda Resettlement Board, was established by the home office to co-ordinate these efforts.
Five decades later, British Ugandan Asians have excelled in many fields, from business and finance to politics, science, and the arts, integrating successfully and contributing to British society in multiple ways.
Ugandan born chair of The British Asian Trust, Lord Jitesh Gadhia, said, “The 50th Anniversary of the arrival of Ugandan Asians is a moment to express our community’s eternal gratitude to all those who supported us in our hour of need.
“British Ugandan Asians at 50, with funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, have been capturing the oral histories of the amazing volunteers who helped to welcome Asians fleeing from Uganda. The project has also recorded interviews with some of those who arrived in 1972 and went through the resettlement camps. Their stories are powerful and deeply moving, recounting the experiences of those who fled Uganda and transitioned to a new life in the UK.
“The stories of Ugandan Asians, and the generosity of spirit of the British people in welcoming them, are worthy of being captured properly for the benefit of current and future generations. This initiative could not be more timely, as the UK welcomes another generation of refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine.”
Praful Patel, the sole surviving member of the Uganda Resettlement Board, which helped thousands of families in 1972, said, “British Ugandan Asians at 50 is delighted to be working with The British Asian Trust to mark this important milestone year, and to celebrate the outstanding achievements of the British Ugandan
Asian Community in the fields of business, culture and society at large since 1972.
“This is also a welcome opportunity to recognise the efforts of the Central Committee for the Welfare of Evacuees from Uganda (CCWEU) as well as individual volunteers, who worked with the UK government’s Uganda Resettlement Board to provide much needed support to those who were expelled from Uganda and arrived in Britain fifty years ago. We know that this event will be remembered fondly and with pride for many years to come.”