Kenya’s ambassador to France Prof. Judi Wakhungu on Wednesday, June 23 pulled down a public notice she had shared a day earlier on her social media pages.
The ‘important public notice’ shared by Wakhungu informed Kenyan citizens entering Schengen territory on transit that they would need to apply for a Schengen Transit Visa before leaving Kenya. It sparked widespread outcry from Kenyans online with hundreds of replies questioning the logic behind the move and demanding action to reverse it.
The notice, which included an official embassy stamp, has since been deleted from her Twitter page. The 26 countries that make up the Schengen territory are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
If implemented, it would have adversely affected the travel plans of countless Kenyans. The restriction would have meant that, for example, a Kenyan travelling to Asia, the UK, or elsewhere with a connecting flight through Amsterdam or Paris, for instance, would have to apply for a Transit Schengen visa before leaving Kenya.
Citizens had flooded the pages of various European embassies with enquiries over the directive.
The France Embassy in Kenya was among embassies which further confirmed that Kenyan citizens in transit would not require a Schengen transit visa, contrary to the directive earlier shared by Wakhungu.
“Transiting through the Schengen area as a Kenyan national? No need for an airport transit visa so long as you stay in the international area within airport,” the French Embassy in Kenya tweeted on its official account.
Wakhungu did not offer an explanation for the notice or its retraction leaving Kenyans with more questions than answers.
Sample some of the responses by frustrated Kenyans to Wakhungu’s initial notice:
“I would expect a protest tweet from you, but here you are aiding them to inform us of this ridiculous decision. Just tell them to say they don’t want us using their airlines & airspace. And that you, are only present as a representative to communicate such ridiculous decisions,” shared Cherotich Tanui.
“Wow, an Ambassador actually tweeting to tell us that she is offering NO ASSISTANCE to us under these circumstances. How kind,” wrote Mordecai Ogada.
“This is ridiculous. What is your job here? Where is the diplomacy? The bargaining? How did we accept this? Have we no cards or dignity at all?” posed Abigail Arunga.
“Transit visa! This is outrageous, you’d think the middle east airports aren’t open for business,” tweeted SullaSacksRome.