STRANDED

State seeks amnesty for Kenyans irregularly in China

CS says some Kenyans were touring the country, others' visas have since expired

In Summary

• Several Kenyans had claimed to have been evicted from their homes on grounds that they were spreading coronavirus.

• 744 Kenyans have been flown back home from various Covid 19 hotspots across the world in the last two months.

Foreign Affairs CS Raychelle Omamo.
HAVE ALLEGED TORTURE IN CHINA: Foreign Affairs CS Raychelle Omamo.
Image: EZEKIEL AMING'A

Kenya is seeking amnesty for her citizens irregularly in China even as 744 nationals were flown back home from various Covid-19 hotspots across the world in the last two months.

Foreign Affairs CS Raychelle Omamo has said the government, through its mission in China, is engaging its counterpart to give relief to enable Kenyans living there to regularise their status.

The disclosures are contained in a report by the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Covid-19 Situation in the country.

The CS made the submissions to the committee - chaired by Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja - on the status of Kenyans living abroad during this pandemic.

“The mission in China had requested for amnesty for Kenyans with irregular status in China,” Omamo told the committee.

This comes against the backdrop of an outcry by Kenyans living in China over what they termed as suffering and torture in the hands of the Chinese authorities.

Several Kenyans had claimed to have been evicted from their homes on grounds that they were spreading coronavirus.

In her submissions to the Senate, Omamo disclosed that Kenyans staying abroad have different statuses, hence the government response to their plight depended on their status.

“Some Kenyans have acquired citizenship and can, therefore, acquire health and social security benefits,” she said.

The CS added that while some have valid work permits and can access medical care, others have short-term contracts such as domestic workers in the Middle East.

Some were on vacation as tourists and got stranded after the various measures were imposed while others had visas that have since expired.

“The Kenyan missions abroad tried to the best of their ability to try and assist every Kenyan who wanted to come back home on a case by case basis,” she explained.

Omamo said the government has flown back home 744 Kenyans since April 7 from various countries and made arrangements for accommodation to ensure the safety of thousands of others.

Among those evacuated are 70 from South Sudan, 221 from UAE, 18 from Egypt, 21 from Pakistan and 165 from China.

The state also brought back 233 Kenyans from India aboard a Kenya Airways flight on May 7.

“This was the most challenging exercise as most of the persons were unwell and were scattered in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, and Hyderabad.”

“As India was on total lockdown, the Indian government allowed charter of local airlines to move the Kenyans to Mumbai in order to board the Kenya Airways flight,” she added.

Besides the evacuation, Kenyan missions abroad have also made arrangements for accommodation of students stuck in various counties.

Missions in France, Japan, Australia, Spain, New Zealand and India have facilitated the extension of visas for some Kenyan citizens.

In France, in particular, the mission has facilitated 61 teacher trainees to be accommodated by universities for a month.

In Morocco and the Czech Republic, students have been accommodated by the universities.

The Kenyan mission in Hungary has facilitated 200 students with food and accommodation.

“The ministry had also put in place monetary interventions, such as a Sh9.8 million stipend that was expended to students in Wuhan, China,” reads the report.

Edited by R.Wamochie