Gambian students studying in Kenya are complaining about not benefiting from the country’s COVID-19 financial aid relief package that was extended to students studying overseas by The Gambian government, Freedom Newspaper can report. The students numbering about 25 of them, said they are yet to receive any financial aid from Banjul. They are currently out of school because of the Coronavirus lockdown in Kenya. The students said they had bills to pay. They also need food to eat during the lockdown.
Kenya had so far recorded 1, 471 cases of Coronavirus. 408 patients have recovered and 55 died.
The East African nation has the highest Corona infection rate in that region. The Kenyan government had decided to relax the lockdown so that the job market can be reopened.
It would be recalled that Gambia’s Finance Minister Mamburay Njie, had last month announced what he called “the COVID-19 economic bailout relief package” that the Barrow government had allocated to Gambian students studying overseas.
The Gambian students in Kenya, said they were asked to submit their names to The Gambian Embassy in Ethiopia, so that they could be included in the economic package. The students said they had complied with the government’s request, but unfortunately, they haven’t heard from The Gambian mission in Ethiopia.
“A memo was sent to us from The Gambian Embassy in Ethiopia, asking us to submit our names for consideration for the COVID-19 relief package, which we did. It is almost a month and two weeks since we submitted our names to the Embassy. We never heard from them. They never gotten back to us as promised, there is no word from them to assure us that we would get our money,” said one of the students.
Some of the students are on Gambian government scholarship, while others are being funded by their parents.
“Life is expensive in Kenya. Food prices have increased. We have rent to pay. We will appreciate it, if the government can come to our aid. We are suffering here,” said the student.
When contacted for comment, the Foreign Ministry Communication Officer Saikou Ceesay referred us to the Ministry of Higher Education. He says his Ministry is not responsible for the student’s COVID-19 relief package.
“The Ministry of Higher Education is responsible for the disbursement of the funds to the students. We do not have the funds. They have the funds. The Ministry of Higher Education would channel the funds through our embassies for onward transmission. This is the show of the Higher Education Ministry,” Ceesay remarked.
“We only compile the names of students studying abroad and handed it to the Ministry of Higher Education,” he added.
The Ministry of Higher Education could not be reached for comment at press time.