Looking in from the Outside

Newspaper cartoon of Uganda refugees with igloos

After his wife, Mary-Ellen Hempel, was sent to Uganda as one of three secretaries to type the visas of Canada bound refugees in September 1972, Paul Hempel began to collect newspaper clippings from the Canadian, American and British press, documenting the Ugandan refugee crisis. Between August 5th, 1972 and January 10th, 1973 Hempel collected newspaper articles from: the Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Globe and Mail, Ottawa Journal, Montreal Star, St. John’s Evening Telegraph, Vancouver Sun, Windsor Star, London Free Press, Hamilton Spectator, Toronto Star, The Economist, Winnipeg Free Press, Time Magazine, and La Presse. Hempel also drew from a number of international sources including The London Times, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, Time Magazine and the New York Times. These newspaper clippings offer a look at how other countries in the Western world reacted to Idi Amin’s policy on Ugandna Asians.

Newspaper article reads 'Uganda action too touchy'

Hempel’s collection documents the international reaction to Idi Amin's expulsion decree. It begins with British diplomat Mr. Geoffrey Rippon’s failed attempts to reason with Idi Amin and then to the international response to the potential influx of new immigrants. The collection explores the deliberations behind Canada's official decision to admit Ugandan Asian refugees announced on August 25th, 1972. By the end of August, media the coverage focuses on refugees who had begun to leave Uganda. Overall, articles printed over the five and a half months from August 1972 to January 1973 cover the expulsion and resettlement of Ugandan Asians. It also covers the broader impacts of this forced migration on the political and foreign policy climate of the United Kingdom, Canada, India and East Africa. Some articles attempt to contextualize the expulsion and explain why Idi Amin came to his decision. The newspaper articles are often supplemented with pictures of people leaving Uganda and, at times, there are newspaper cartoons including one depicting a group of Ugandan Asians arriving in Canada only to find igloos and a most unwelcoming climate. Overall the newspapers convey a sense of pride in Canada’s role in accepting the Ugandan Asian refugees.

Paul Hempel’s dedication to tracking the situation in which his wife was involved that has enabled for the creation of this incredible resource.

View Hempel's collected newspapers (pdf):

Looking in from the Outside - Binder #1

Looking in from the Outside - Binder #2

Looking in from the Outside - Binder #3

Looking in from the Outside - Binder #4

Looking in from the Outside - Binder #5