Repatriating Kenyans from abroad will cost the taxpayers a total of Ksh4.5 billion to bring home fellow citizens stranded abroad due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This was revealed during an update by the National Assembly Committee on Defence and Foreign relations, on the plight of Kenyans in the diaspora where it was also brought to the fore that seven Kenyans have lost their lives to the deadly coronavirus.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also noted that it was in touch with foreign governments to ensure the rights of Kenyans living abroad were protected after reports emerged that Kenyans in China were facing racial discrimination. The ministry informed the committee that the Chinese Ambassador to Kenya had been summoned over the mistreatment of over 3,000 Kenyans in China.
Wu Peng, the Chinese ambassador to Kenya informed the government that the attacks on African nationals in China were as a result of illegal immigrants who had failed to get health documentation and were thus ineligible for housing, several Kenyans are also said to be in China illegally with expired passports.
National Defence Committee Chairman Katoo Ole Metito said that China and Kenya had agreed on modalities to ensure Kenyans would be able to renew their passports after the pandemic and thus should not be subjected to mistreatment.
Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau had earlier informed Parliament that the number of Kenyans around the world stood at three million and it would be a challenge to bring all of them home especially during this time that most passenger flights around the world were grounded.
All Kenyan missions in China were under lockdown with staff operating from home, a situation that complicated coordination and possible provision of assistance to Kenyans, with the committee report adding that 10 Kenyans who had approached the embassy in Beijing would be assisted.
Metito also added that the government had already managed to get a United Arab Emirates (UAE) Dreamliner plane with a seating capacity of 215 passengers but could not commission the flight to Kenya as only 40 people were willing to board.
Almost 750 more Kenyans, some who had gone to seek medication in India are stuck with no flights to bring them back. 200 of them are said to be businessmen.
“These are people who already have return tickets, and the ministry is exploring means of facilitating their movement from various locked-down cities to Bombay and New Delhi for planes to pick them,” read a statement from the report.
National Assembly majority leader Aden Duale added that Kenyans needed to be brought back home for free as the high flight cost was hindering their return.
“We cannot compromise the lives of our people just because China is giving us loans. Those Kenyans in China are being mistreated, we talk with them every day, so let’s not hide,” Duale stated.