Community, Diaspora and Immigration

Lord Popat’s debate to the contribution of the Ugandan Asian community in UK at the House of Lords

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To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the expulsion of Ugandan Asians, the Lord Popat of Harrow led a debate in the House of Lords to pay tribute to the contribution that the Ugandan Asian community has made to the UK and to thank the British community for supporting the community to develop.

Lord Popat, a Ugandan Asian who came to Harrow in 1971 spoke of how 60,000 Uganda Asians were expelled by the brutal dictator Idi Amin; “these 60,000 people were forced to leave behind everything but the clothes on their backs. They were brutally evicted and given only three months to leave.”

Over 28,000 refugees arrived between August and November 1972, many of whom arrived to Harrow, which was declared a red-star zone for Ugandan Asians by Edward Heath’s government.

During the debate, Lord Popat pay tribute to the Ugandan Asians for “transforming the shopping experience” for British people, introducing “late-night shopping and Sunday opening.”

Lord Dykes, the former Conservative Member of Parliament for Harrow East also took part in the debate and outlined the impact of the Ugandan Asian community to the borough; “(Harrow) was electrified into becoming an interesting, riveting place, not only because the local corner shop stayed open until midnight or even 1am, but for all the other contributions that this remarkable community has made.”

Lord Popat concluded the debate by thanking the hundreds of thousands of volunteers who helped the refuges settle, including the critical roles played Her Majesty the Queen and Ted Heath’s government; “The tale of Ugandan Asians in Britain is one that makes me proud, particularly when I see how much the new generation of British Indians have excelled. In 40 years, we have come far and I hope that our community continues to pay Britain back for what she has given us.”

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