The 129 Kenyan students studying at various universities in Khartoum, Sudan jetted home to an emotional welcome from parents, relatives and local leaders on Saturday night.
The students had been stranded in Sudan since March after international flights were stopped to combat the spread of the novel corona virus.
They were flown back on a special discounted Kenya Airways (KQ) flight following negotiations and financial sponsorship by the Mvita MP, Abdulswamad Nassir.
They will be placed in quarantine for 14 days before being allowed into their homes after tests for the virus.
Those with well-equipped houses and prepared for home care will be isolated in their homes.
Strict social distancing rules put in place by the Ministry of Health to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus was adhered to as the returnees who arrived aboard a Kenyan Airways plane from Khartoum landed at 7.45 pm on Saturday.
The Mvita MP, Abdulswamad Shariff Nassir who initiated the move to bring back the Kenyan students was on hand to receive them at the airport flanked by the Mombasa County Secretary, Denis Lewa and the Chief Officer Medical Services, Dr. Khadija Shikelly and the Chairman of Muslim for Human Rights (Muhuri), Khaleef Khalifa.
The MP lauded collective efforts by a section of coastal leaders who responded to calls for assistance that made the repatriation flight possible.
”It is encouraging to see leaders and the general population coming together especially at a time when this pandemic is causing untold suffering to the humankind. We have been able to bring home to Mombasa 87 healthy students and another 42 who terminated their journey in Nairobi,” Nassir said.
Other leaders who responded to calls to help included Governor Hassan Joho, the Mombasa businessman, Suleiman Shahbal , Lamu East MP, Shariff Athman and the Malindi legislator, Aisha Jumwa respectively.
Nassir approached the National carrier for assistance when it became apparent that no airline was willing to fly home the Kenyans following closure of airspace and boundaries as nations of the world put in measures to contain the spread of covid-19.
The students were escorted out of the airport by police and officials from the Public Health Department and headed straight to the Kenya School of Government, Mombasa where they began their corona virus quarantine period.
”They were not tested in Sudan due to lack of testing equipment. Health precautions were taken right from the time they boarded flight. Here we have followed up the same and shall be holding them at the Kenya School of Government Quarantine facility before we carry out tests,” Dr. Shikelly said.
Dr. Shikelly said that those who test negative will be allowed to go home while anyone found to be positive will be put through the normal health treatment procedure before full recovery.
”We have options for self-quarantine. But before one is put on this option, a team of specialists will be dispatched to inspect a patient’s home for the possibility of homecare” she said.
Muslim for Human Rights (Muhuri), Khaleef Khalifa said about 64 students are still stranded in Khartoum and appealed for well-wishers to assist in their repatriation.
Speaking after their arrival the students said they were living in deplorable conditions as they were struggling to get decent meals and others who were sick could not get medical attention.
The students who were delighted to jet back home expressed gratitude to the various leaders who responded to their plight and helped pay for their tickets back home.
The stranded students are from Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale, Isiolo, Mandera, Garissa, Lamu and Nairobi counties respectively.
By Hussein Abdullahi