Government urges Kenyans stuck in diaspora to remain still until travel bans are lifted

Foreign Affairs PS Amb Macharia Kamau. [Photo Foreign Affairs Ministry]

The government is willing to evacuate Kenyans living abroad but the situation on the ground says otherwise, Foreign Affairs PS Amb Macharia Kamau has stated.

Amb Kamau discounted claims that the government has shown no concern for her people who are currently stuck in foreign countries.

There are reports that 160 Kenyans are stuck in India, several others stuck in China and 200 Kenyan students stuck in Iran due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. 

21 other students are in Hungary, 61 in Australia and 61 training assistants are stuck in France.

The PS cites that besides travel restriction, the countries where Kenyans are stuck have closed all travel facilitation which has left Kenya helpless in its quest to evacuate her people back to their motherland.

In an appearance on Thursday before Parliamentary Committee for Defense and Foreign Relations, the PS said that “although possibility of immediate evacuation is limited, plans must be put in place to help those Kenyans come home as soon as global conditions allow and flights become viable.”

While acknowledging that evacuation of Kenyans in the diaspora needs to be prioritized, he stated that it is hard to help those who are in those countries but are undocumented.

He also said that it has become difficult to keep contact with the undocumented Kenyans in the diaspora.

He averred the ministry is facing challenges in trying to respond to their calls.

Recently, an Emirates plane headed to Nairobi only shuttled 13 Kenyans from UAE but the ministry says it had received 300 distress calls from her people in this Arab nation.

 “We find ourselves uniquely challenged in responding to distress calls from our diaspora in over the 140 countries we have a foot print. Many of them have run out of cash because they did not anticipate the situation. Our embassies are only in 54 countries and our staff are overwhelmed,” he further told the Katoo Ole Metito led committee.

Going forward he said that “We have written to them asking them to look after Kenyans just as we look after the international community here in Nairobi to ensure no harm befalls on them. This includes an assurance that those affected will not be evicted from their premises and thrown out to the streets.”

“This situation is going to be with us for about three to six months and therefore we must be prepared to face up to the situation. Right now there is nothing much we can do until the travel bans are lifted.”

On Tuesday, April 14, the PS said Kenyans who die while abroad will have to be buried there.

“We also request Kenyans to bear with us to bury those who die in the diaspora within 24 hours and maybe the families should consider letting them be buried there given the circumstances,” Kamau said in a press briefing.