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Kenya Airways Suspends Flights to DRC Amidst Staff Arrests, Regional Tensions Rise

Kenya Airways has announced the suspension of its flights to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) following the arrest of two of its employees by Congolese authorities, sparking a deepening crisis in the region and straining relations between the two nations.

The airline’s decision comes in the wake of the arrests of its staff members by the Congolese government, which Kenya Airways has described as harassment. 

The situation has escalated tensions between Congo and Kenya, with Kenya Airways becoming the second airline in the region to sever ties with Congo after Rwanda Air’s decision a year prior.

The genesis of the conflict traces back to April 26, when Kenya Airways accused Congolese authorities of harassment over the continued detention of its staff, despite a court ordering their release. 

The two employees were detained on April 19 by Congo’s military intelligence for alleged customs violations related to incomplete documentation for valuable cargo.

Kenya Airways has vehemently protested the arrests, stating that the detained workers were innocent and were lawfully carrying out commercial activities in the DRC. 

Korir Sing’oei, the principal secretary at Kenya’s foreign affairs ministry, emphasized Kenya’s commitment to protecting its citizens abroad and stated that the government was actively engaging with the situation through its mission in Kinshasa.

The airline clarified that at the time of the arrests, they had not taken possession of the cargo in question, as it was still undergoing clearance procedures. Despite a court order for their release on April 25 to allow due process, the employees remain detained.

The suspension of flights to the DRC marks a significant escalation in the conflict, highlighting the severity of the situation and the impact on regional relations. As tensions continue to rise, both countries face the challenge of resolving the dispute and restoring normalcy to their diplomatic and economic ties.

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