Kenya and United Kingdom’s diplomatic tensions escalate

By Samuel Ouma

Kenya Airways (KQ), on Monday, April 5, suspended its flights to the United Kingdom, a move that would heighten the already existing diplomatic row between the two nations.

The suspension will take effect from April 9 until further notice.

The loss-making airline said that the decision was arrived at following the Government’s directive that suspended all UK flights from April 9.

The airline apologized to their customers for the inconvenience, asking them to change their bookings or request a refund penalty-free. However, the carried forward tickets must be utilized before March 31, 2022.

At the same time, KQ announced that it has added two new flights to the UK on April 7 and April 8 to meet the increasing travel demand.

The current ongoing row between Kenya and the European nation kicked off last week Friday when the UK government added Kenya to its “red list” of countries whose residents are banned from setting foot in the country.

The UK said it is aiming to protect itself against new variants of Covid-19.

In a statement, UK said that after April 9, when the ban is taking effect, only British and Irish nationals from the red-list countries will be allowed to enter the country. However, they will have to quarantine for ten days at their expenses.

“The government has made it consistently clear it will take decisive action if necessary to contain the virus and has added these destinations to the red list to protect public health,” read the statement.

In retaliation, Kenya banned all passenger flights to and through the UK for a month.

Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Ministry slammed the UK for adding the country to its Covid-19 red list, terming the decision ‘discriminatory’ and lacked ‘logic and scientific knowledge of the disease or the spread of the pandemic’.

“This vaccine apartheid, coupled with reckless calls for vaccine passports while not making the vaccines available to all nations, widens existing inequalities and makes it near impossible for the world to win the war against the pandemic,” read part the Ministry’s statement.

Other African countries in the UK’s travel ban red list include Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Cape Verde, DRC, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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