Seven Kenyans stranded in Somalia after Uhuru closed border over Covid-19

May 12, 2020 By: MUHURI

The seven Kenyans stranded in RasKamboni, Somalia. Photo: Courtesy.

On April 23, 2020, we received a complaint from seven Kenyans who were on April 6, 2020, denied access into Kenya. They are Patrick Shingula Mwangala, Martin Mwaghazi, Ignas Kialu Mwanyumba, Michael Mjala, Gabriel Kennedy Otieno, Elia Mwalili, and Abas Mutuku, who resides in Mombasa, Kilifi and Nairobi.

The group had left Kenya for a welding job in Kismayo, Somalia on diverse dates between January 6 – 25, via Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), after being cleared by the department of immigration. They finished the work on March 31, 2020, and started journeying back to Kenya on April 5, 2020, until they were blocked at Ras Kamboni a day later. Two Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) officers and police from Juba Land questioned their movements. The officers cleared the seven to enter Kenya subject to approval by Lamu county commissioner, Irungu Macharia. Police confiscated their travelling documents.

The group contacted Irungu who said the border is closed due to coronavirus pandemic. Since April 6, 14 days – a period when coronavirus can be detected – have elapsed and none of the seven has fallen ill, they say. These Kenyans say they have exhausted the money they earned and are now sleeping on the streets – further endangering their lives and health. Their families are destitute and are appealing that the government grant them access to Kenya.

The government has previously shown willingness to evacuate its citizens stranded abroad. For instance, on April 17,  2020, officials at the Kenyan Embassy in Beijing, China with backing from the government, issued a notice asking its nationals ready to be evacuated at own cost, to file their contact details as soon as possible.

And Article 39 of the Kenyan Constitution, 2010, expressly talks of the freedom of movement. Precisely, sub-article three states: “Every citizen has the right to enter, remain in and reside anywhere in Kenya.” The seven stranded in Somalia, are Kenyan citizens, and constitutionally, ought to be in the country by now.

Therefore, MUHURI demands the seven are allowed to enter Kenya without any further delay under the Constitution and the law. MUHURI and the said Kenyans have the right to sue to protect, uphold and defend the Constitution and their rights.

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