Kenya government distances itself from nationals in Kabul

Wednesday, August 18th, 2021 00:00 |
Foreign Affairs Macharia Kamau.

George Kebaso, Nicholas Waitathu and Agencies

The Kenya government yesterday appeared to distance itself from the plight of Kenyans stranded in war ravaged Afghanistan.

A statement released by the Foreign Affairs ministry asked any Kenyans stranded in the Far East nation to seek help from their employers as the government had no diplomatic relations with Kabul. 

“Firstly, Kenya has neither diplomatic presence nor accreditation to Afghanistan.

Secondly, the country has been unstable for a long while and we do not expect our Kenyans to have gone to this country,” Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary, Ambassador  Macharia Kamau said through the Ministry’s Public Affairs office.

The ministry spoke as it has emerged that about 10 Kenyans are stranded in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of the US forces from the country and the subsequent seizure of power by the Talibans, occasioning a serious crisis as millions of civilians scramble to flee the fighting.

Yesterday, the ministry revealed only one Kenyan had reached out to the government seeking to evacuated.

“We have one evacuation request from a person working for IDLO in Afghanistan which ideally we believe the organisation should take responsibility,” the ministry revealed.

IDLO response

The PS added that the ministry was yet to receive a response from IDLO on the matter.

 “We sent a letter to IDLO country office and their H/Qs in Rome concerning the one case we received.

We are following up to find out if there are known Kenyans stranded through our High Commission to Pakistan,” said the PS, who spoke through the ministry’s communications office.

The PS also conceded that there could be more Kenyans stranded in the war torn country, many of them employed in the construction sector but who went there without the government’s knowledge.

“But they might also be some contractors of private companies in the Security area. We hope they will be taken care of by their own contractor,” the PS added.

Kenyans yesterday took to Twitter and other social media platforms to urge the government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to evacuate stranded Kenyans.

On Monday the social media was awash with video footage of people desperately running after military flights evacuating diplomats and civilians from Afghanistan at the main Kabul airport.

Tea exports

Meanwhile, Kenyan tea producers have expressed concern over the political impasse in Afghanistan, a key export destination for the commodity.

They said if instability is not tamed in the Asian country, it might slightly tip volumes in the long term.

Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) while there is no market disruption at the moment if instability escalates in the country, it may affect tea export volumes in the long term. 

“Even though the Asian country is not among the top 10 export destinations of Kenya tea, significant quantities of dry tea are exported there.

It is a crucial segment of the global tea market and we cannot be happy when it is unstable as the same with interrupt buyers,” KTDA chair David Ichoho said on phone yesterday. “We are hopeful that peace will be restored to allow smooth trade flow.”

This is after Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani fled last Sunday as the Taliban swept into Kabul following the announcement of withdrawal of US forces from the region.

The tea directorate estimates that export volumes to Afghanistan recorded a 74 per cent drop between January and May to 686,636kg compared to 2,596,262kg of dry tea shipped out the same period last year.

Buyers from the Central Asia country imported 134,648kg in May compared to 200,920kg recorded the same period last year, accounting a 33 per cent drop.

The drop is largely attributed to effects of the Covid-19 pandemic which has continued to ravage most parts of the globe. 

East African Tea Traders Association Managing director Edward Mudibo said it is still early to conclude that is disruption of tea exports to the country.  

Last week, during Sale 32 at Mombasa tea auction  average price remained constant at  $1.95 (Sh213.135).

US refugee request

And it has also emerged that Uganda has agreed to a request from the US to take in temporarily 2,000 refugees from Afghanistan fleeing the country for fear of Taliban reprisals. 

“The request was made yesterday by the US government to  Museveni and he has given them an OK to bring 2,000 refugees to Uganda,” Esther Anyakun Davinia, Uganda’s junior minister for relief, disaster preparedness and refugees, told Reuters.

“They are going to be here temporarily for three months before the US resettles them elsewhere.”

It is, however, unclear when they would start arriving. Albania and Kosovo have also accepted a US request to temporarily take in Afghan refugees.

The US forces took charge of the airport, their only way to fly out of the country, on Sunday, as the militants were winding up a dramatic week of advances across the country with their takeover of the capital without a fight, some international media outlets reported.

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