Kenyans not victim of China racist attacks, ministry claims

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020 00:00 |
Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Kamau Macharia. Photo/PD/SAMUEL KARIUKI

Anthony Mwangi and  Robert Ochoro

No Kenyan has been affected by reported cases of violence and evictions targeting Africans residing in the Chinese city of Guangzhou, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau denied reports a number of Kenyans have been affected by the skirmishes in some Chinese cities.

He told a press conference yesterday the Kenyan Embassy in China had records of only 100 Kenyans, but the ministry had reports there are thousands living in the country without documents.

“The problem we are having in China is that we have quite a big population of Kenyans who have not registered with the embassy. We cannot tell their status for now,” said Kamau.

There have been reports of incidents of violence and evictions in Guangzhou with the local authorities said to be flushing out foreigners purportedly in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.

“The provincial governments, which are similar to our county governments, are the ones involved. We have discussed with the Chinese authorities who have promised to address the matter. The situation is not out of hand yet,” said Kamau.

He said the African Union, through its current chair, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, had written a protest note to the Chinese authorities demanding that the discrimination targeting African nationals stops.

Macharia revealed that five Kenyans in the United States had died of coronavirus-related complications in the past one month while hundreds are stuck in various countries that have imposed lockdowns to control the spread of the respiratory disease.

Total lockdown

Kamau said the five victims had underlying medical conditions which may have contributed to their death.

He said an estimated 160 Kenyans, who had travelled to India with their relatives to seek treatment, were stuck in the Asian country, which has shut public operations countrywide.

“It is a concern since it’s on full lockdown so we are unable to facilitate travel. Some of them have run out of cash and cannot be helped,” he observed.

He added that some the patients who were in India to seek treatment had died and asked their families to consider having them buried there given the circumstances.

“Some of our people in India who had travelled to accompany their sick loved ones have lost them and cannot bring them home due to the lockdown. We are in talks with the Indian authorities on the best way to assist them,” Kamau said.

Stranded students

He revealed that about 18 travellers were stranded in Australia while around 200 students in Iran were unable to return to Kenya.

The PS said the ministry’s staff were overwhelmed by requests from thousands of Kenyans living abroad who are seeking assistance, with some of them asking to be evacuated.

“Dealing with thousands of people is challenging. In most cases we will have to wait for the lockdowns to end before we act. We would like to assure Kenyans in the diaspora to remain understanding to allow our staff to attend to their needs during these trying moments,” Kamau said.

Kenyan embassies in Spain, France and Hungary, he said, were working with the host nations to assist students studying in those countries.

Kamau said the situation was, however, challenging in the United Kingdom where there is a large number of Kenyans who are not registered with the Kenyan mission.

“The situation in the UK is a little bit challenging since we do not have the statistics on the number of Kenyans there yet. We have thousands of Kenyans living there,” Kamau said.

Thika MP Patrick Wainana has urged the government not to believe what he termed as propaganda being spread by the Chinese authorities and evacuate Kenyans stranded in Guangzhou.

In Kisii, several Members of the county assembly have urged the government intervene and protect Kenyans who are facing racial discrimination in China in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Led by Bogeka Ward Representative Charles Nyagoto, the leaders said some Africans in China had been forced to live in streets after they were attacked or evicted from their homes. 

“There are several Chinese in Kenya and in other African countries. They have not been harassed and mistreated over the disease. Africans deserve to be treated with respect,” Nyagoto told People Daily in Kisii town yesterday.

He appealed to Kenya’s Envoy in China, Sarah Serem to give Kenyans facing discrimination refuge in the embassy and facilitate their return home once the Covid-19 pandemic is contained.

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