KENYA: Shield Vulnerable Groups from Impact of Covid-19, Bishops Urge Government

NAIROBI, JUNE 16, 2020 (CISA)-The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) has appealed to the government and people of good will to shield refugees, internally displaced people, pastoralists, people on the move like truck drivers, street families and people with mental illness from the effects of Covid-19.

“As we continue to combat Covid-19, we are concerned about its impact on vulnerable populations including refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and people on the move e.g. truck drivers, pastoralists, persons living on the streets and persons with mental illness,” the bishops said.

In a message delivered on June 14 after Corpus Christi Sunday Mass celebrated by Bishop Virgilio Pante Chairperson of the KCCB Commission for Refugees, Migrants, and Seafarers, the bishops noted that such vulnerable populations are at a higher risk of contracting and spreading the virus.

Noting that truck drivers contribute immensely to the economic health of our country, the bishops decried the continual rise of the number of truck drivers contracting covid-19 and warned that it indicates a gap in addressing their safety and their health.

“…it is a matter of great concern to all of us. We appeal to the government to urgently address the challenges the truck drivers are facing in order to curb the rising spread of Covid-19,” the bishops said.

They also pointed that refugees and internally displaced people who reside in densely populated camps face risk of contracting Coronavirus and called for urgent mitigation measures to help control the possible widespread.

“We appreciate the various organizations and groups that have been offering support to refugees and internally displaced people in their camps. We however appeal that more deliberate mitigation measures are urgently implemented to protect these vulnerable groups,” they said.

Among the pastoralists, the prelates noted that although the reported cases of Covid-19 among them are low there is need for sensitization of this community on Covid-19 risk factors and preventive measures.

Appreciating philanthropists for donating food to vulnerable groups, they pointed that other aspects of their well-being like health need attention especially during this time of Covid-19.

“We call upon National and County governments and people of good will to support them in all ways possible,” the bishops said and appealed for continued contribution to the Church through Caritas to facilitate the support of those affected by Covid-19 and floods.

They also decried gender based violence in families and neighborhoods and its impact on the mental health of victims and appealed to families to seek help and exercise restraint, patience, dialogue, forgiveness and peace building.

“For the victims of the violence, we appeal to them and their caregivers to speak out and to seek for help form religious leaders, hospitals and counsellors. We need to remind ourselves that our unity solidarity and a sense of hope are key to defeating Covid-19,” they said.