Seven Kenyans stranded in Ras Kamboni, Somalia for over 70 days due to coronavirus have finally returned home.
Their return follows months-long lobbying and a lawsuit by MUHURI.
It is a sigh of relief for the group and their families that were devastated and struggled to live.
The seven got trapped in Ras Kamboni since their arrival on April 6, 2020, spending most of the days without food.
They are Ignus Kialu, Patrick Shingula, Martin Mwaghazi, and Michael Mjala. Others are Gabriel Kennedy, Elia Mwalili, and Abas Mutuku.
They had gone to Kismayo, Somalia for a welding contract, which expired on March 31, 2020, six days after President Uhuru Kenyatta closed the borders and shut the airspace over the pandemic.
But despite other Kenyans stranded in Europe having unhindered access to the country over the period, the Ras Kamboni Seven remained confined and neglected.
They sought help from Lamu county commissioner Irungu Macharia who rebuffed them. Macharia, then, said only Uhuru could allow the group to enter the country. Uhuru did not, necessitating MUHURI to sue.
The seven suffered –locals at Ras Kamboni hurled projectiles at them claiming they had coronavirus. They slept on ruins of a building that appears to have been bombed.
Back home, their families slept hungrily, fell sick and had no medication. Kialu’s family got kicked out of their house owing to accrued rental arrears. So disturbing was the situation that one of the kins to the seven contemplated suicide.
But the long wait is over.
On June 15, 2020, the group, aware of the danger, decided to trek some 18 kilometres to Kenya border at Kiunga. They travelled along the shores. They could not go through the dense forest that is overrun by militants.
They left at 5 am, and two hours later, they arrived at Ishakani village, where they met Kenya Defense Forces officers.
“They interrogated and searched us, then called their counterpart at Kiunga, where they drove us in their Landcruiser,” Mwaghazi said.
The group said the officers were humane – they provided food and called medical personnel to check on them.
The seven spent the night at Kiunga KDF camp.
They left the camp via a military chopper on June 16, 2020, at 9:57 am, arriving at Lamu island at 10:30 am.
Police have placed them under quarantine.
Mwaghazi said: “We are really happy to be back in Kenya. Thank you so much MUHURI for your interventions.”