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Covid-19: BATUK families in Kenya to be evacuated to the UK

The British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK) on Monday said they will temporarily withdraw services from the country following the global coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter to partners, BATUK Commander Colonel Paul Gilby said he had been directed by the UK government to remove all army families back to the UK 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.

He said that 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,” he added.

He said that BATUK will continue to pay their locally employed community contractors, landowners and landlords.

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

Since the announcement by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe on foreign travel last 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.

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.”

The European Union also organised a special charter flight with Kenya Airways Wednesday to fly European Union, UK, Swiss and Norwegian citizens wishing to depart Kenya for Europe.

The national carrier said it is assisting passengers returning home given the increased travel restrictions across the world.

Airlines across the world have suspended flights, sent workers home and asked governments for bailouts.