By AGGREY MUTAMBO
The government on Friday announced it will release all South Sudanese nationals rounded up recently in a crackdown on illegal immigrants.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry said the decision followed an intervention from the South Sudanese Embassy in Nairobi.
Several South Sudanese nationals had been arrested last week together with other foreigners after police argued they lacked proper immigration papers to be in Kenya.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the State Department for Interior have agreed with the Embassy of the Republic of South Sudan on a solution to cause the expeditious release from police custody of all identified South Sudan nationals who were found without proper documentation,” the statement said.
South Sudan joined the East African Community in 2016. Ideally, it would allow free movement of their people into Kenya without need for a visa.
But the civil war that erupted in 2013 made it difficult for nationals to obtain passports.
In fact, as many as 140,000 refuges poured into Kenya during the conflict, according to figures from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
It was not clear whether the released nationals will be deported or granted refugee status to continue staying in the country.
President Salva Kiir and his nemesis Riek Machar signed a peace agreement this week.
It may however take some time to be enforced.