British army families in Kenya to be evacuated to the UK

By Irene Githinji On Sun, 29 Mar, 2020 16:45 | 2 mins read
Batuk
Batuk commander says he has been ordered to remove all army families back to the United Kingdom. PHOTO | COURTESY

The British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK) will temporarily withdraw its services in the country following the global coronavirus pandemic.

BATUK Commander Colonel Paul Gilby said on Sunday that much as it is their intention to stay in Kenya, he has been directed by the UK government to remove all army families back to their country on a temporary basis.

“I wanted to write and reassure that BATUK’s intention is to stay in Kenya for the long term. However, I have received direction from the UK Government to extract all army families back to the UK temporarily. This does not mean that the British are leaving Kenya,” said Col Gilby.

Adding: “BATUK will temporarily stop delivering training and reduce its manpower. This will only be for a short period of time until we can return to Kenya and resume normal operations. We will keep in contact with you to provide updates on the situation as we have them. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to you for your continued support.”

Last week, foreign embassies began evacuating their citizens to avoid them being stuck in Nairobi as the government ban on international flights took effect last Wednesday.

Since the announcement by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe on foreign travel on Sunday, a number of embassies have been working with the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) and other government agencies and airlines to facilitate travel of their citizens back home.

Further, some embassies, according to sources, fear that with the apparent reluctance by Kenyans to observe strict measures outlined by the government to prevent the spread of the virus, the situation could easily get out of control and their nationals might be caught up in the mix.

The US embassy for instance, urged its citizens interested to travel back to their country, to take advantage of flights available over the weekend

“We have learned that British Airways is operating two commercial flights from Nairobi to London on Saturday, March 28, and Sunday, March 29. Tickets for these flights can be purchased online. The Embassy strongly recommends that any US citizen interested in leaving Kenya take advantage of these flights, as we are at this time unaware of any additional international flights departing Nairobi.”

Kenya Airways chief executive officer (CEO) Allan Kilavuka last week told People Daily in a telephone interview that the airline had organised extra outward flights following requests by some embassies since passengers who were planning to leave the country had to organise themselves.

For instance, on Tuesday last week, Kilavuka said the airline worked on three direct flights to United States of America which left, the United Kingdom and Europe after they approved by the government on request by the embassies

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