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Kenyans in Egypt being evacuated

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 2 – The government has started evacuating Kenyans living in Egypt due to the political turmoil facing the country since last week.

Foreign Affairs Assistant Minister Richard Onyonka told Parliament on Wednesday that the government would ensure that Kenyans in Egypt were flown back as soon as possible to prevent any harm.

“As we speak we are already evacuating all the Kenyans in Egypt.  We are all aware of what is happening and have instructed our Ambassador Mr Dave Arunga in Cairo to get in touch with all Kenyans there and take necessary measures,” Mr Onyonka said.

“We have even spoken to Kenya Airways to facilitate their travel back to Kenya and the Chief Executive Officer Mr Titus Naikuni has already assured us of cooperation,” he said.

“If Kenya Airways cannot provide transport to Nairobi, Mr Naikuni will code-share with British Airways and other European airlines to take Kenyans to Europe if need be,” he said.

The Assistant Minister was however, taken to task by Members of Parliament who demanded to know why the government had taken too long to commence the evacuation.

Mr Onyonka defended the government saying the measures were being hampered by poor communication due to internet and mobile phone cut offs but assured that the Embassy in Cairo was taking necessary measures to ensure all Kenyans are evacuated.

“We are aware that the situation in Egypt is actually deteriorating with dwindling food supplies, commercial banks have closed and there is no food in general.  As a result, the ambassador in Egypt has been instructed to look out for all Kenyans wherever they may be in Egypt and make the necessary arrangements for safe evacuation including facilitating their movement out of that country,” he said.

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“We have also instructed the Ambassador in Cairo to ensure all the embassy staff and their families are all brought back,” he added.

“The Embassy is in touch with most the Kenyans and some have indicated they would like to stay in Egypt to monitor the situation but will constantly be in touch with the embassy,” Mr Onyonka told Parliament.

He dismissed media reports that many Kenyans were stranded in Egypt.

Mr Onyonka said the government feared the situation could deteriorate because there were reports that “large numbers of Egyptians will turn up after the Friday prayers to demonstrate to the Presidential palace.”

Egyptians have been demonstrating in the streets and outside the Presidential palace, demanding an end to Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.

On Thursday, pro and anti government supporters clashed, leading to running battles that lasted for hours as military and police continued to patrol the streets.

Mr Mubarak has announced he will not run for another term and is instead prepared to undertake reforms the Egyptians are demanding.

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