Kenyans take shelter from London riots

Riot police tackle a mob after cars are set alight in Hackney/ AFP

LONDON, Aug 8 – Hundreds of Kenyans living in London have been caught up in the city’s riots – sheltering with friends and staying inside to avoid violence.


As night fell in London on Monday, the looting and burning got worse, a pattern seen in the three days of violence in other parts of the city.

The riots have spread to Hackney, Clapham and Peckham , Croydon, camden town , enfield and some parts of Birmingaham. These have been triggered after the first protests in the Tottenham on Saturday following the death of a man shot by police.

A Kenyan living in Croydon where a landmark furniture building and cars were set on fire spoke of her concerns; “Croydon is miles from Tottenham and i really didn’t expect this to flare up here.

We’ve watched as it progresses after the last few days and as it gets dark it tends to get worse,” she said.

“For most of the day it’s been a standoff – like a faceoff to see who will blink first.”

Ngethe WA Ngethe the chairman of the UK lobby – Kenya Movement for Democracy and Justice – who lives in white city called on Kenyans to keep safe, echoing the acting Police Commissioner’s call for parents to ensure their children were off the streets.

He also called for police not to surrender the streets to criminals who are causing distress to peace loving citizens.

“These are criminals and there is no excuse for property damage, public disoder whatsover. Communities need to hold up and take control of the young people! This is impunity and must be dealt with before it escalates to the state we have across some Africans countries,” he said.

Other Kenyans expressed their views via social networks: A kenyan who lives in Lewisham area had this on her status “Army, Police, Fire Brigage’ Where are you?”

Another Kenyan living in East London posted on Facebook “Bring the Army back from Afgnistan” We are under siege.

The Police have been heavily criticised for the way they have responded to the situation.

Unlike Kenya where police use Water canons or rubber bullets to scatter riots, the Metropolitan Police have rulled any use of such tactics.

Across the Kenyan Community, people sort of understood why the initial riots started in Tottenham after a young man Mark Duggan was shot by the Police, – there was a deep and, in some cases, valid resentment for police in Tottenham area.

“But the attitude of most people in London and within the community on the third evening is that at first it may have a political point but by now, people are saying it’s not political, that people are getting involved in this behaviour just because they can.And its criminal!”

“Kenya London news was swoped by Kenyans calling to get information as were other media houses. What was clear was incredible fear as gangs go on rampage looting and burning properties.

Its heartbreaking for Kenyans in London to see their neighbourhoods destroyed, to some they spoke of memories of their motherland during the 2007 political violence that saw 1,500 murdered and thousands displaced.

“I got a call from my friend warning me to try and get home quickly,” Rebeca who left Kenya for London five years ago told us. “Transportation was chaotic and the chaos escalating.”

The political Leaders in the UK led by the Prime Minister David Cameron and Ed Miliband have cut short their annual summer holiday to come back and address the situation.

London will host the 2012 Olympics and the pictures of a city on fire are not particularly a good message to visitors to London.

Community Leaders across London are urged to keep an eye on their community members and call for help if required.

(This article was contributed by Agnes Gitau is the CEO for the London Africa Media Network contact

  • Chantal Ongaro

    kids need a good hiding, yet I see one analyst say don’t bring the army
    yet. A society so messed up everyone behaves like a teenager.

  • Chantal Ongaro

    London kids need a good hiding, yet I see one analyst say not to bring the army. a society so messed up everyone behaving like teenagers

  • Njaguah

    I think we should issue a travel advisory against Britain.

  • Kamau’s emergency services were on full-scale alert on Monday night as rioting, fires and pitched battles with police erupted around the city from late afternoon.The Metropolitan police poured hundreds of extra officers on to the streets as trouble flared in the north, south and east of the capital.In Hackney, east London, masked and hooded youths smashed up shops and threw missiles, planks of wood and wheelie bins at riot police. Several abandoned vehicles were set alight. There were also violent scenes in Lewisham, south-east London, where petrol bombs were reportedly thrown at officers, and shops looted. A bus was torched in nearby Peckham as police struggled to respond to the spread of sporadic violent incidents.Witnesses said a 100-strong mob cheered as a shop in the centre of Peckham was torched and one masked thug shouted: “The West End’s going down next.” A baker’s next door was also alight. One onlooker said: “The mob were just standing there cheering and laughing. Others were just watching on from their homes open-mouthed in horror.”The unrest had spread beyond London with West Midlands police confirming outbreaks of disorder in Birmingham city centre. Shops including a branch of Louis Vuitton had windows smashed and were looted. Extra officers were being sent into the streets of Britain’s second city.Muigwithania 2.0 Issues Travel Advisory Against Non Essential Travel To UKWe advise against all but essential travel to low /middle income areas of London,City of Birmingham  including all township or  areas, which experience high crime levels.  See Safety and Security – Crime. 
    Large public gatherings and demonstrations occur from time to time in the UK and these should be avoided.  Any rally, even if advertised as peaceful, could potentially turn violent. You should check local media reports for information about any planned demonstrations.
    There is a high historical  threat from terrorism in London. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including places frequented by tourists and foreign travellers. Previous attacks have included a bomb attack on the London Subway Tube & bus service, which resulted in significant loss of life.
    The London Metropolitan  police have encouraged extra vigilance against possible  attacks  by vandals and anarchists on public places as a result of current heightened conflict  and riots in city.
    There were past fatal incidents involving police shootings of  foreign nationals (Brazilian shot in London train), although the racial motivations and circumstances remain unclear. None of the indiscriminate police action has so affected Kenyan nationals.We advise against all but essential travel to within 30 km of  London and the city of Birmingham . There have been attacks  on civilians and fires reported .
    You should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.
    No part of Britain should be considered immune from violence and the potential exists throughout the country for hostile acts.You should be vigilant and take extra care, particularly in and around landmarks and places where large public crowds can gather. Hotels, shops and restaurants used by the international community have been attacked in the past and it is likely that there will be further such attacks.
    You should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. Medical facilities, including ambulance services, outside major cities are very limited, and your insurance should cover you for the possibility of medical repatriation;. Check any exclusions and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake. Leave your passport in the hotel safe, but carry a photocopy for ID purposes.Register with The Kenyan High Commission service to tell them when and where you are travelling or where you live abroad to allow for consular and crisis staff provision of  better assistance to you in an emergency.Kenyan nationals visiting the United Kingdom for more than a month and/or travelling to riot areas are recommended to register with the High Commission using the  on-line consular registration service.  If you are unable to access the internet you should contact the High Commission in advance or on arrival.In Case of Emergency ContactThe Kenya High Commission45 Portland PlaceLondon W1B 1AS, United Kingdom020 7636 2371consular@kenyahighcommission.net020 7636 2371020 7323 6717

  • apache

    this is a very dangerous city to live in, Mogadishu afadhali