The Star (Kenya)

Why UK put Kenya on Covid Red list

is is not a reflection of the importance we place on our relationsh­ip with Kenya; it was a scientific decision...while the UK is emerging from our third, strict lockdown, we have suffered badly

- JANE MARRIOTT

The Covid-19 pandemic has been going on for over a year now. e damage has been immense: lives lost, jobs lost, education interrupte­d for our children, and many dreams put on hold. I know the UK’S decision to add Kenya to the ‘red list’ was an unwelcome addition to a year of lives disrupted. I recognise the strength of feeling and anger, both at the decision itself, the basis for it, and the timing. Our relationsh­ip is a partnershi­p, based on mutual respect and trust, and I know many have felt hurt by this. I understand why. Our government­s, our businesses, and above all our peoples, are part of the rich tapestry that makes up our relationsh­ip – none of us want to be in this situation.

is is not a reflection of the importance we place on our relationsh­ip with Kenya; it was a scientific decision. Other strong friends have also gone on the list. While the UK is emerging from our third, strict lockdown, we have suffered badly.

is disease disproport­ionately affects our grandparen­ts and the elderly – in the UK, there are more than three million people over 80. 127,000 loved ones and family members have died. Spring has started in the UK: following from the Resurrecti­on, this is a time of hope, joy, new life and fresh starts. But we remain deeply concerned about new variants of Covid, which could result in a fourth lockdown and more lives lost.

It is worth emphasisin­g that Kenyans who have residency rights in the UK, or who successful­ly apply for a student visa for future studies, can still travel. Arrivals into the UK have had to self-isolate for many months now. e new approach means they will have to do that same isolation in a government-approved facility. We are working closely with our Kenyan friends and colleagues to ensure these restrictio­ns are in place for as short a time as possible.

Our Foreign Ministers agreed on Wednesday to establish a Joint Emergency Response Committee, to allow our scientists, our public health experts and diplomats to address these Covid-19 travel restrictio­ns together. We know that Kenya is also doing its utmost to protect its population, and has fared better than the UK.

All relationsh­ips have testing moments, but the Kenya-uk partnershi­p is broad and deep. We know that is why this decision and disruption has hit hard. We have a longstandi­ng and Strategic Partnershi­p, from security, trade, developmen­t, people-to-people ties and tackling climate change.

e UK’S Foreign Secretary visited in January, confirming the strength of our relationsh­ip with President Uhuru Kenyatta. We have signed a refreshed Security Compact, a health partnershi­p and an Economic Partnershi­p Agreement. Our partnershi­p is an enduring one.

We know that none of us are safe until we are all safe. And that includes Kenyans. at is why the UK is one of the biggest donors to Covax (Sh82 billion so far), which has supplied Kenya’s first million vaccinatio­ns and will provide more. e UK contribute­s around 10 per cent of Covax funding – so a significan­t number of vaccines already in Kenya are a result of UK contributi­ons and partnershi­p with this incredible country.

As Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau said on television this week, friendship­s like ours stand the test of time. And that is why we are doing all we can to come through this challenge with Kenya together.

THE UK IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST DONORS TO COVAX (SH82 BILLION SO FAR), WHICH HAS SUPPLIED KENYA’S FIRST MILLION VACCINATIO­NS AND WILL PROVIDE MORE

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