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Kenyan Government Abandons Its Citizens in South Sudan, Embassy Unhelpful

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Stranded Kenyans at a refugee camp in South Sudan

Stranded Kenyans at a refugee camp in South Sudan

The freshly ignited war in South Sudan that has seen nearly 500 people dead under a week and hundreds of thousands displaced continue to wreak havoc. Despite President Kiir and his Deputy Machar calling for a ceasefire, the tension is still high in Africa’s youngest country and many live in fear.

Countries have put in place evacuation strategies for their citizens held up in the bullet ridden country. US, UK, China, France, Italy, India and other serious countries who mind the safety of their citizens have sent chartered planes to fly out their trapped citizens to safety. While those governments are doing what they’re rightfully meant to do, protect and ensure safety of its citizens in and out of the country, Kenyan government doesn’t seem to have been moved by the bloodbath taking place in its neighboring country.

Since the gunfight began and news of deaths started coming in as the situation worsened, social media have put heavy pressure on the foreign ministry and the Kenyan embassy in Sudan to issue a statement and its plan on ensuring safety of Kenyan citizens holed up in the warring country. They responded by giving out hotline numbers that should be used by Kenyans trapped in South Sudan to communicate with the embassy to ensure their safety. It would later turn out that the numbers were unreachable.

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Kenyan citizens have been left in the cold, feeling betrayed by their own government who doesn’t seem to be doing much to rescue them from the bloody streets of South Sudan. I have been contacted by the association of Kenyans living in South Sudan to highlight on their plight and remain unamused by the flimsy efforts put by the government to save them.

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“The embassy is unhelpful, they don’t even have an evacuation plan yet, all they’re saying is they can only facilitate issuance of passports and it ends there.” Says a furious Kenyan in South Sudan on her predicament. “While other countries are bringing in planes to evacuate their people, we’re left here on our own like we don’t have a government back home and we pay taxes. We are mad.” She adds.

Most of the trapped Kenyans have resorted to plot their own exit strategies with a huge number left with no option but to wait for the tension to go down. As at the time of publishing, Uganda had sent its army to go rescue its citizens from South Sudan via road and some Kenyans are hoping to hike a ride back home under the protection of the Ugandan army as that is their only remaining hope.

The Kenyan embassy is flocked with distressed citizens but there is little hope for relief. “Our hands are tied, there’s little we can do but were trying to organize something.” This has become the chorus in the embassy’s corridors. Just the other day, some truck drivers braved through the gunshots to try and come back home but were killed by the forces before they could cross the border.

Travelling back home by road is very risky and Kenyans in South Sudan are left living in full fear. It is not clear for how long our brothers and sisters have to suffer before the government can wake up and do what is expected of them- ensure the security of her citizens.

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Kenya West is a trained investigative independent journalist and a socio-political commentator on matters Kenya and Africa. Do you have a story, Scandal you want me to write on? Send me tips to [in.kenyawest@protonmail.com]

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