His Majesty The King has joined celebrations at Buckingham Palace to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Resettlement of British Asians from Uganda in the United Kingdom.
On 4th August 1972, some 60,000 Ugandan Asians were given 90 days’ notice to leave the country by former Ugandan President General Idi Amin. Almost half of these people arrived and settled in the UK.
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.
Presented by broadcasters Jon Snow and Jonathan Dimbleby, today’s ceremony reunited many of the refugees and volunteers whilst offering thanks to over 60 voluntary organisations, including the Royal Voluntary Service, British Red Cross and Oxfam, who mobilised to provide timely humanitarian assistance 50 years ago.
In 1997, a Service of Thanksgiving was held at Westminster Abbey to mark the 25th anniversary of the Resettlement and was attended by the former Prime Minster, Sir Edward Heath. A letter from His Majesty, then The Prince of Wales, featured in the Order of Service programme, which read:
You are today commemorating not an expulsion but an arrival; not a trauma, but a magnificent recovery. Twenty-five years on, the Ugandan Asian Community in Britain have proved to be one of our great successes and a tremendous asset to this country to which you fled.
"As you give thanks to Westminster Abbey, I too give thanks - that Britain had the wisdom and generosity to offer a home to the Ugandan Asians in 1972, and that you have so thrived and contributed so much since. I send you my heartfelt wishes on this important day."