NAIROBI, Kenya May 21 – The Senate Ad Hoc Committee on coronavirus has urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to facilitate the evacuation of broke Kenyans living abroad, with priority given to students.
The committee, chaired by Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja, has asked Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo to fast-track their passage noting that no Kenyan in overseas should be abandoned.
Sakaja wants Omamo to submit a detailed report by June 19 indicating the criteria used identify the Kenyans in the diaspora eligible for support and measures taken by the Ministry to mobilize resources to facilitate them.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should set a criterion on eligibility of Kenyans in the diaspora who are in dire need of coming back home but cannot afford air-tickets, giving priority to students,” the committed recommended in its sixth progress report.
Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Ambassador Macharia Kamau is on record stating that evacuating Kenyans stranded abroad would be costly with the government opting to ask Kenyans willing to come back home to meet their travel costs.
Sakaja however, challenged the Ministry to make a request for support from the various emergency funds that have been set up to mitigate the effects of COVID 19, to ensure that all Kenyans willing to come back home are facilitated.
According to the information posted on the website of the Kenya COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund Board, a total of over Sh2.7 billion has so far been collected.
Most of the funds have since been channeled the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment for health care workers and support for vulnerable communities.
The government has so far evacuated close to 1,000 Kenyans who managed to pay for their travel costs, mainly from China, London and India.
The Senate Committee, which is mandated to oversight actions and measures taken by the national and county governments in addressing the spread and effects of COVID-19 in Kenya, has so far held 53 sittings with various stakeholders in the country.