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Negotiations secure release of KQ employees detained by DRC military for 17 days

Free at last

The moment PS Korir Singoei placed a call to welcome Lydia Mbotela to the Kenyan Embassy in DRC upon her release by the authorities in Kinshasa.

Kenya Airways on Monday evening confirmed the unconditional release of two of its employees who had been detained in Kinshasa, DRC since April 19, 2024.

The national carrier also announced the resumption of flights to the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital starting May 8, 2024.

The two employees were held by military authorities under sparking concerns among their families and colleagues.

The airline thanked the efforts of various stakeholders, including their Kenya Airways colleagues in both Kinshasa and Nairobi and the Kenyan government.

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In a statement released on May 6, Kenya Airways expressed its gratitude towards everyone who contributed to the safe return of their staff.

Special thanks were given to the Government of Kenya, led by Prime Cabinet Secretary, Musalia Mudavadi, and the Kenyan embassy in Kinshasa for their support and diplomatic engagement.

Allan Kilavuka, Group Managing Director and CEO of Kenya Airways, reiterated the innocence of the detained staff members, emphasizing that they were simply performing their duties as per the company's strict adherence to laid-out procedures.

"We stand by their innocence and will continue to support them," Kilavuka stated.

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The airline has assured its customers and stakeholders that with the necessary ground support now in place, it is fully prepared to resume operations.

Kenya Airways also confirmed ongoing cooperation with the investigative agencies and relevant government entities in both the DRC and Kenya to ensure such incidents are handled promptly and fairly in the future.

According to Foreign Affair PS Korir Sing'Oei the military was also involved in the negotiations to secure the release of the two individuals.

"I commend the team at our Mission: our Military Attaché, the FRO and the Charge d'affaires, for this incredible work of negotiating our compatriot's release," he said.

Earlier he had met Met Lydia's family to assured them of the government's commitment to ensuring she was fairly treated.

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The detention of two Kenya Airways employees in Kinshasa, was due to an issue related to missing customs documentation for a valuable cargo.

This cargo was intended to be transported on a Kenya Airways flight on April 12, 2024, but was not uplifted or accepted by the airline due to incomplete documentation.

Despite the airline's assertions that the cargo had not been officially received as the documentation was still being processed, the employees were detained by the Military Intelligence Unit known as Detection Militaire des Activities Anti Patrie (DEMIAP).

Further complicating the situation, a military court ordered the release of the two employees, but they continued to be held incommunicado.

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This incident led to the suspension of Kenya Airways flights to Kinshasa as the airline expressed its inability to operate effectively without its personnel.

This scenario sparked significant concern and diplomatic interactions between Kenya and the DRC.

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