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Kenya to evacuate citizens in China at own cost: Embassy

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The Kenyan government has asked its nationals living in China and willing to be evacuated at own cost to file their contact details as soon as possible.

Officials at the Kenyan Embassy in Beijing issued a notice on Friday asking anyone ready to buy a ticket out of China to send their information via an online platform to be helped out of the country, via Guangzhou, the commercial city in the southern Guangdong province.

One of the conditions issued said only Kenyans will be evacuated as long as they can pay their own ticket.

In addition, those Kenyans will have to prove they are free of the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19), which means they will have to be certified by Chinese medical authorities.

Once they are flown out of the country, they will also be forced into quarantine for 14 days, upon landing in Nairobi.

“If you are ready to travel under these conditions, fill the above QR code so that the bio data reaches the Embassy immediately,” said a notice sent out to the Kenyan community in China.

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“Please note that the departure will be from Guangzhou on a date to be determined immediately the above information is availed (sic). Kenyans with questions were told to inquire from Mr Kimani Waweru, the deputy head of Mission in Beijing on +86600690463.

Pressure

The decision to ask details arose from increasing public pressure both at home and among the diaspora community for the government to rescue those stranded in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In China, the African community there complained they had been maltreated by Chinese authorities imposing tight lockdown measures to prevent the virus from returning to the country it first started.

This week, the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs admitted some of its nationals were victims of the controversial policy, now criticised as racist.

“This situation has been extremely worrisome to all of us. The reality is that this has been a very unfortunate outcome.

“Africans, Kenyans included, have been discriminated against in the process of [Guangdong provincial] government’s response to mop up the situation that they are facing there, post-crisis,” Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau told media briefing on Tuesday.

But the move to evacuate at own cost, and further quarantine of 14 days for those who certify they are free of the virus could elicit further outcry.

This week, the Kenya Diaspora Alliance, which represents various associations of Kenyans abroad, criticised the forced quarantine as inhumane.

“While agreeing with government that each case has to be considered on its own merit, we contend that forced quarantine in conditions not conducive to complete isolation creates more problems than it seeks to solve,” Dr Shem Ochuodho, the Global Chairperson for KDA said in a statement on Wednesday.

“We urge Kenya Government to release all returnees in forced quarantine who have completed their 14-day mandatory period to re-join their families, and have them and their families sign undertakings to ensure self-quarantine at home for the further 14 days.”

The quarantine policy in Kenya has been equally controversial. This week, it extended the duration for some of those who had completed their 14 days to another two weeks after those in their group tested positive. In fact those refusing offered public facilities have been asked to be quarantined in hotels at own cost.

Meanwhile, Kenyan Embassies across the world have been asked to update their records of Kenyans living in their areas of jurisdiction. A directive sent out from Nairobi this week says envoys must provide update data on those Kenyans in case evacuation is needed.

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