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Kenyans stranded in South Sudan ask why their government isn’t helping them leave

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta (bottom L) arrives at the airport in Juba,
Reuters/Andreea Campeanu
A little help please.
By Lily Kuo
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

While foreign governments move quickly to evacuate their nationals from South Sudan where fighting threatens to plunge the country back into civil war, Kenya is being accused of deserting its citizens.

A campaign under the hashtag #HelpKenyansinSouthSudan has been tweeting at Kenya’s foreign office, its foreign minister, president Uhuru Kenyatta, and Kenya Airways, the country’s national carrier, which has halted flights between Juba and Nairobi. Fifteen Kenyan drivers have been killed in the fighting, according to the Kenya Long Distance Truck Drivers and Allied Workers Union.

Entrepreneurs, aid workers, and traders from neighboring countries like Kenya and Uganda make up some of the largest communities of expatriates in South Sudan. Over the past decade, Kenyan banks, telecoms, insurance, retail and other businesses have moved into the country where the consumer market is still underdeveloped. Small-scale investments—taxi companies, restaurants, hair braiding shops—are popular among entrepreneurial Kenyans. These companies employ thousands of Kenyans.

President Yoweri Museveni called on the military to escort Ugandans out of the country today, as fighting between forces loyal to president Silva Kiir and supporters of vice president and former rebel leader Riek Machar came to a pause today (July 12).

The US embassy has sent all nonessential staff home, and India’s external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has been responding to messages on Twitter from concerned Indians in the country and promised to help get them home. Japan sent military planes for its citizens.

In contrast, the Kenyan government has not said anything about evacuating citizens. Kenya’s foreign office has said on Twitter that it is in contact with its embassy in Juba to ensure the safety of all Kenyans living and working in South Sudan. Kenyans in Juba have told local media that they have not heard from their embassy in Juba since the fighting broke. Calls to the Kenyan embassy in Juba went unanswered or were hung up on.

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