Third Eye

All 1998 blast victims deserve compensation

Thursday, April 29th, 2021 00:00 |
US President Joe Biden. Photo/AFP

On August 7, 1998, life for many Kenyans changed, irreparably. A bomb ripped through the barriers of the US embassy in Nairobi.

It was the work of terrorists who targeted American government installations.

More than 220 Kenyans perished in the blast with more than 5,000 left with injuries. 

The attack also claimed lives of 12 Americans. For 23 years, survivors of the attack have borne physical and emotional wounds.

Their only hope was compensation after a case in the US found the terrorists guilty and the Sudan government was fingered for aiding the al Qaeda killers. A Sh33.5 billion fine was slapped on the government for its role.

The amount was to be used to compensate victims of the blast. However, no sooner had the Sudanese government remitted the amount recently than old wounds were reopened.

Reality is yet to dawn on families of Kenyans who lost their lives and those who are still nursing injuries that they will not receive a penny from the Sudan payout. 

This is not just. The Kenyans who lost their lives and were injured in the attack are basically regarded as collateral damage.

The terrorist never targeted them and their only sin was trying to eke a living near the embassy or going about their business near the building.

The declaration by the US that only its citizens and Kenyans working in the embassy will be compensated is, therefore, a smirk in the face of justice. 

Interestingly, even for those to be compensated there is a discrepancy. US citizens’ lives are valued at more than seven times those of Kenyans who perished in the attack.

Families of US citizens who died in the attack are getting Sh300 million but those of Kenyans will receive Sh40 million.

The basis of such discrimination is shocking. Whereas no amount of money can replace the lives lost it is only fair that all those who suffered in the attack are compensated.

Diana Mutisya, a civil servant due for retirement, is spending up to Sh80,000 a month to get treatment for lifelong conditions she suffered as a result of the blast. She won’t be getting a cent.

One of her lungs does not function and she cannot walk for long. Hers is a shared story over the decades.

The discrimination is uncalled for and the US government needs to live to its maxim of right to life and the common good.

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