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State criticised as Kenyans abroad suffer

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A foreign policy lobby in Nairobi has asked for government consistency in the treatment of Kenyans abroad, arguing they are the country’s frontline ambassadors.

The International Relations Society of Kenya (IRSK) said Kenya must have a policy that gives protection to all Kenyans wherever they are.

The Society, which represents professionals in foreign policy and security issues, was responding to reports by stranded Kenyans in Lebanon that they have been abandoned by the embassy.

“Kenyans abroad have valid expectations that the [diplomatic] missions will protect and help them in case of trouble,” the IRSK said in a statement on Sunday.

“The failure by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and their consular division to proactively secure Kenyans’ interests abroad puts them at risk of harm and exploitation and could ultimately damage the image of the country.”

Evacuation delay

Since the blast in Beirut, which killed at least 135 people and injured thousands others two weeks ago, some 20 women have camped at the Kenyan consulate in Lebanon demanding to be evacuated.

But the Kenyan Embassy in Kuwait, which is accredited to Lebanon, says the women have been rowdy and refused to cooperate with consulate officials.

On Friday, Kenya’s Ambassador to Kuwait, Halima Mohamud, said the consular aid to the women may delay by a week after Lebanon extended a state of emergency in the capital.

The embassy, she said, had directly written to the group leaders of Kenyans in Lebanon explaining the delays and assured the provision of emergency travel papers should start by Tuesday.

Diaspora remittances

The IRSK, however, said the situation in Lebanon was not isolated and called on the government to be consistent in its treatment of Kenyans in the diaspora.

“The Kenyan passport needs to mean something. The claims of lack of a budgetary capacity to secure Kenyans in times of crisis is tragic,” said the lobby’s secretary, Dr Peter Mwencha.

“The important role that Kenyans abroad play in driving our economy, through remittance of billions of shillings, cannot be overlooked. It is saddening that when they need help, the same government cannot afford to assist them.”

The diaspora remitted some Sh286 billion to Kenya in 2019, according to the Central Bank, more than tourism.

State’s response

The government insists it is always willing to provide consular services to any Kenyan abroad.

Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau rejected the IRSK accusation of inconsistency, arguing that despite lack of budgetary allocations for evacuations, embassies abroad often assist.

“We have always been one of the first, if not the only African country, to evacuate. Every time there is a problem, if it is genuine, we always bring Kenyans home,” he told the Nation.

“Consular services are there to help people deal with the law and order situation and documentation in case they run into difficulties.”

For the Kenyans in Lebanon, officials say help could not arrive earlier because the women arrived in Lebanon as undocumented migrants and their employment situation in the country “was unknown,” according to the embassy in Kuwait.

Ms Mohamud told the Nation the women will only be helped if they cooperate with the consulate and register.

By Nation

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Africa

Tough visa rules for students from Kenya, other countries seeking to study in US

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President Donald Trump’s government is planning to bar Kenyan and other  East African students from pursuing degrees in the US by limiting their stay in the country.

The move which is contained in proposals by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will also see students from a majority of African countries barred from getting student visas longer than two years.

This means that the students will be unable to pursue education in American universities where degrees and other certifications take about four years of study.

“If DHS’s new proposed rule goes through, international students from countries like Nigeria, Kenya, Vietnam, and the Philippines would be effectively banned from getting four-year degrees in the US,” US Immigration lawyer Aaron Reinchlin-Melnick, who is a Policy Analyst at the American Immigration Council, warns.

According to the new DHS proposal, students from countries on the State Sponsor of Terrorism List (Iran, Syria, Sudan and Northern Korea) and citizens of countries with over 10 per cent overstay rate will be limited to the two-year student visa.

“Most of those countries would be subject to restrictions because of the “10 per cent visa overstay” threshold,” Mr Reinchlin-Melnick tweeted.

The majority of the affected countries are in Africa and others in war-torn countries in Asia. The list seems, however, to avoid countries dominated by white people, especially in Europe.

Students who will be affected by the new rules include those from Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, South Sudan, Somalia, and Ethiopia.

Other than the East Africans, students from countries such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, DR Congo, Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, Papua New Guinea, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Togo, and Zambia are affected.

Others are Afghanistan, Bhutan, Guyana, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Nepal, North Korea, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Syria, Tajikistan, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Yemen.

Although the students would be able to ask DHS for an extension of their visas past two years, those extensions will not be guaranteed.

In its explanation, the Department says that its intention is to fix a major problem on students overstaying their welcome in the US.

But an analysis of the Department of Homeland Security points that only 32,023 people were suspected of overstaying a student /exchange visa last year.

Overstayed

Whereas the Trump government argues that the rule to restrict some countries is based on the percentage of students who overstayed, countries with the highest number of overstays like China, India, Brazil and Canada are not included in the punitive list.

A downward trend is also developing as fewer students from other countries are enrolling in US colleges and universities, according to a study published recently by a State Department bureau and Institute of International Education, a New York-based NGO.

Last year’s 0.9 per cent drop in new enrolments of international students continued since the start of the Trump administration in 2017.

A spate of gun violence in a number of States especially targeting black population is also reported to have a number of parents reconsider sending their children to the US.

Kenya ranks third among sub-Saharan countries and the first in East Africa and followed by Ethiopia in the number of students attending US colleges or universities.

Nigeria leads the pack with a total of 13,423 students last year, an increase of nearly six per cent from the 2017-18 academic year followed by Ghana.

In July, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that students on non-immigrant F-1 and M-1 visas who attend universities that operate entirely online amid the Covid-19 pandemic may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States. It meant students under the category were required to return home.

The order was however rescinded after a public outcry.

-The EastAfrican

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Africa

Why all the hullabaloo about the 2-year US student visas for Kenyans?

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BY BOB MWITI

There has been a lot of outcry about the latest news that Kenyan students will be getting 2-year US student visas instead of 4 years as it has been the case before. I have received several messages from my followers asking clarification on what this means.

 

It is said that the main reason for the latest student visa changes is because Kenya is one of those countries whose students have notoriously overstayed their visas. Quite true though!

 

Well, rather than create a fuss about this drastic change by the US government, let’s first of all ask ourselves, why do we overstay our visas, and how can we solve this issue of visa overstay.

 

I will first address the overstay issue before I give you my view on the ramifications of the new 2-year visa changes.

Please note that this post may make some people “catch feelings”, but that is fine.

 

Someone with an organization that deals with student matters in America, I have an obligation to educate those prospective smart international students who religiously follow me and consume my content. If you are not one of them, it is fine, just pass this!…Ok?

 

You see, us Africans never talk about undocumented immigrant issues openly here in America, mostly because they affect almost every one of us. Almost every household know one or two people who do not have the right immigration papers, and therefore it is an extremely sensitive topic to address.

 

However, people back home need to know these things so that they can make an informed decision.

Here in the US, about 30-40% of African immigrants do not have the right immigration papers. Meaning they live and work in America illegally.

 

One interesting fact is that majority of this group of our people came to America as International students. They never crossed the border illegally!

 

They went to the embassy, were given a visa and were admitted at the US airport, but somehow, they found themselves in this situation of not having the right immigration documents.

 

I have always said this a million times, that as an international student, one of the most challenging thing that you will ever face if you want to live and work in USA is to figure out how to transition from a student to a permanent resident.

Majority of our students come here blindly without really thinking about how they will make that transition. No one tells them before they leave Africa. They come here and then they are surprised with what they must do.

 

One of the major problems us Africans have and continue to make the same mistake repeatedly, is coming to USA without enough funds to take care of our studies as international students.

 

You know how we normally do it? We get just enough to push us through school for one semester, and then hope that we will be able to work and pay for the school fees.

 

Who told you that you can earn enough to pay for your school fees? Do you know how much it costs to study here? Do you know that as an international student you are only allowed to work 20 hours a week on a minimum wage and that this kind of money is barely enough to pay your rent?

 

You see, if we keep making the same mistake, we will continue suffering as international students.

If you are a smart prospective international student, you need to make sure that you have enough funds to push you through school in America. If not, you will drop out of school and fall out of status and once you do that, you will become an illegal alien.

 

The consequence of being an illegal immigrant is that it is extremely hard to work in corporate America, even if you are smart. You will end up working those odd Jobs that a lot of Africans do. They do those jobs because, those are the only jobs one can do if they do not have the right papers.

 

Now, you may ask yourself, how do you get enough funds to take care of your education in America?. There are options for unsecured international student loans and loans that require a cosigner. This is a great option for needy smart student who want a US education.

 

When I came to US as an international student, I realized majority of Indian students study in the US on student loans. Only Africans do not….and these Indians complete their studies and work good jobs in corporate America. Such jobs come with work visa, and most of these work visas are taken up by them.

 

The US government offers 140,000 employment-based green cards every year and each country is allotted 9,800 of those visas, yet very few of us Africans get them. 80% go to Indians!…..Reason being, Indians complete their studies, and remain in good standing under the law and therefore are able to transition seamlessly.

 

Most Indian students know what career trajectory they will take, even before they land here. One time I asked an Indian friend of mine that I was working with, if before he came to study in USA, he knew whether he would be doing the same IT consulting job he was doing at that time.

Do you know what he said?…”heck yea!..I knew it!”

 

Guess what?, for me when I left Kenya, I had no idea what would happen to me after I got to America. I came here blindly like millions of other Africans do. Vastly different from what these Indians do. No wonder they are many steps ahead of us on so many levels.

 

Indians are richest group of people in America. They make more than the white Americans, and yet they came to USA as immigrants just like us……and majority came as students on student loans!!..Yes!..Student loans!

 

Very few Africans get permanent residency through employment, and yet it is one of the easiest ways to transition from a student to a skilled worker in USA.

 

Unless we figure things out, we will keep struggling in getting the right immigration papers in USA.

 

Now back to the 2-year visa issue. In one of my episodes on my popular show “Success with Bob Mwiti”, I actually addressed the issue of what a visa and an immigration status mean.

 

So, let me clarify, A visa is just a stamp you get on your passport that allows you to leave you country and seek admission at the port of entry here in the US.

 

Once you land here in the US as s student, you must attend the school and maintain your immigration status as a student. Key word here is MAINTAIN. Failure to do so will make you become an illegal alien and if you are caught you may be deported.

 

So, what really matters once you are here in the US as a student, is that your immigration status is current as shown on your SEVIS record which is tied to your I-20 document not your visa stamp!!..ok?

 

Let me clarify this a bit, let’s say you have 5-year visa like it was before, and you come here and drop of out of school due to school fees issues after one semester. Then even though you had 5-year visa stamp on your passport, you will be out of status and you could be deported.

 

Now assume, you got 2-year visa on your passport, and you came for a 4-year undergraduate program and you have been studying smoothly, and by the 3rd year, your visa has expired. What that means is that, even though your stamp is expired, you will still be fine because your immigration status as shown on your SEVIS record via your I-20 is still intact. What matters is your SEVIS record on your I-20 document!

 

The only slight concern with this 2 year visa when studying a 4 year course is that, if for any reason you decide to travel outside the US after 2 years, then you will have to attend a student visa interview. If you were in school throughout, you will never have a problem getting your student visa renewed, but if you did not maintain your status then you will be in trouble.

 

In conclusion, what we need to fix is our mentality on the best way to migrate to USA as international students and how to get the funding needed to take care of our education in America.

 

There are abundant opportunities for smart students in America and Indians have figured this out, and yet us Africans keep languishing down there with low paying jobs and lack of immigration documents. Unless we fix that, we will keep on struggling and it will become harder to get these student visas at the US consulates!

 

A Little Bit About Me!

 

I am a former international student in USA and I am a senior IT consultant in the areas of Oracle EBS Financials and Robotics Process Automation (RPA) here in USA. I am the programs director of Appstec America – A consulting company based in Tampa, Florida, USA.

I’ve been blessed to have learned a lot in my career as an IT consultant. My life has truly changed, and I’ve made it my mission to give back and serve others beyond myself.

 

Whether that be helping you to relocate to USA as an international student, train you as an IT consultant, help you start and build your own online business, creating your financial freedom, motivating you to pursue your goals and dreams, to being more productive, to inspiring you to constantly improve yourself.

 

My mission is to get you to wake up to the unlimited potential within you and achieve what you’re truly capable of through my various self-development training programs.

 

On the internet, I openly and passionately share my life experiences and all of the very best concepts, strategies, tools, and resources that I continue to discover that have made a measurable difference to my life, and will do for you as well.

 

Keep your dream alive and never give up!

To learn about our Kenya airlift program, a program that is transforming the lives of brilliant young Kenyans, please go to www.mastersforsmartkenyans.com

Feel free to contact me at success@successwithbobmwiti.com or info@appstecamerica.com or you can call me at  +1 813-573-5619 ext 402

 

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Africa

‘I have been living with HIV/Aids for 10 years’ Narrates rape survivor Nikita

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A South African woman identified as Nikita has won the admiration of many for publicly speaking about her journey with HIV/Aids.

Sharing her experience via her twitter account she says

‘I have survived raped twice by my uncle and a unknown man,I have survived abuse from my mom.

I grew up in a orphanage, I was conceived via rape,I got diagnosed at 18 with a CD4 of below 100.

10 years later Im stil here thanks to my arvz #Covered24_7′

Nikita, who has been living with HIV for 10 years.

In another tweet Niqita said she was once sexually once abused while expectant by someone who should have protected her.

‘Ever had to be sexually abused while pregnant simply because you needed accommodation yep that was me. It made my strong.’

Describing herself, the mother of three said that HIV does not define her.

In the recent past more and more people are sharing their HIV stories. Among the most public cases are Asumpta Wagura, the late Binyavanga Wainaina,Phenny Awiti and Doreen Moraa.

Phenny Awiti was born with the virus but only found out when she was in high school.

Doreen Moraa has been living with the disease for 20 years.

By Mpasho.co.ke

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