Okoa Mombasa petitions Senate on Old Town Covid-19 abuses

Okoa Mombasa and its partners have petitioned the Senate to seek redress over the Covid-19 lockdown imposed on Old Town Mombasa earlier this year.

The petition was submitted to the Senate’s Ad Hoc Committee on the Covid-19 Situation in Kenya on Sept. 23, and co-signed by Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI) and the Old Town Residents Association (OTRA).

The petition states that there was no scientific evidence presented to justify the Old Town lockdown, which prevented people from leaving the area for a month. Indeed, a survey of 1,000 Old Town households by Okoa Mombasa, MUHURI and OTRA found that very few had been tested for Covid. 

Rather, residents of Old Town feel they have been subjected to political and religious persecution, noting that the lockdown was timed to coincide with the holy month of Ramadhan and just before Eid-ul-Fitr.

Moreover, the appeal argues, Old Town residents and leaders were not consulted prior to the lockdown, and were not engaged as partners in efforts to contain the virus.

“The cessation of movement had adverse effects on the residents of Old Town,” the petition states. “Access to non-Covid-19 related medical care was lacking. The impacts of the ‘lockdown’ affected nearly every aspect of the residents’ lives. Residents were unable to earn a living or even look for work, resulting in lack of money to pay rent, or cater for other needs and expenses. The inability to continue with studies, attend congregational religious observances and prayers, meet with family and friends, attend burials, all had a negative psychological and social impact on the residents.”

The petition calls upon the Senate to:

  • Require that the County Government provide justification for the cessation of movement directive;
  • Require that County Government reimburse residents expenses paid for quarantine, given that the Government pledged to pay for quarantine;
  • Require compensation for loss of businesses and livelihoods, psychological traumas and other expenses; and
  • Require the County Government to engage with the residents of Old Town to resolve and redress the grievances generated by the cessation of movement directive.

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