Kenya says it’s formally asked the Indian government to permit stranded Kenyans to assemble at one point for a planned repatriation flight.
On Wednesday, Kenya’s diplomat to India Willy Bett told the state that he expects the India government to permit Kenyans scattered within the country to travel freely to New Delhi for a planned Kenya Airways flight on May 8.
Most of them, consistent with information at the Kenyan Mission, are in New Delhi , Chennai in Tamil Nadu , Hyderabad in Telangana, and Bangalore in Karnataka. Others are in Ahmedabad in Gujarat and Mumbai.
The diplomat said the Mission will organise transportation to Delhi and can announce pick-up locations later.
The Indian government has imposed travel restrictions between cities during a bid to lower infection rates for the Covid-19.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended a 21-day lockdown till May 3 but it wasn’t clear if the restrictions are going to be extended.
In case India extends it, Mr Bett said, his Mission asked authorities in India to offer Kenyans who bought tickets for the flight special permission to travel from May first.
The idea is to find them assemble in New Delhi , he said, in order t the KQ flight can repatriate them.
KQ required a minimum of 200 passengers to check in for the “chartered” flight, but the govt described it as an appointment with KQ to assist Kenyans willing to pay but stranded to return back home.
On Wednesday, the tickets for that flight were being sold from Sh85, 894 for business class and Sh45,635 for economy.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a notice sent to Kenyans on April 28 via Kenya’s High Commission in Delhi, confirmed an appointment to fly some 223 Kenyans trapped within the lockdown.
“The planned flight will depart from Mumbai on May 7, 2020 at 1200 hrs,” the diplomat told the state .
“This is neither an evacuation nor a repatriation but simply a facilitation to assist stranded Kenyans get home. Tthat is why they need to pay.”
An investigation by the state found that at least122 Kenyan patients were ready and willing to buy tickets.
Data from the commission indicated that over 1000 Kenyans registered last week when a notice was put up but that only 22 indicated their wish to return home.
“Some have fallen sick again due to the lengthy stay and therefore the circumstances and are re-admitted,” said Jecinter Hezron, a Kenyan who took her mother to India for treatment and is the spokesperson of a gaggle of over 100 Kenyan patients stranded in Bengaluru, Karnataka State and other parts of India.
Agnes Kavovi Kalii Kiminza, 51, who underwent chemotherapy, surgery and radiation at CyteCare Cancer Hospital in Bangalore, said she was overjoyed by news of the flight.
She planned to fly home on April 7 but wasn’t ready to due to the lockdown .
“The timely intervention and genuine concern about our well-being is clear . We are proud Kenyans … I received the notice with great joy … it had been sort of a breath of fresh air,” she said.