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Kenyan bank accused of denying S. Sudanese access to foreign currency


August 15, 2015 (KAMPALA) - A number of South Sudanese living in Kenya claim they were being denied access to their accounts after the Juba government allegedly instructed Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) not to allow them withdraw foreign currencies.

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An external view of KCB Buluk branch in Juba, South Sudan. Dec. 7, 2011 (ST)

This is the first time such restrictions are being imposed, 20 months since conflict broke out in the young nation and has drawn several mixed reactions from South Sudanese

A humanitarian worker, who asked not to named, criticised the decision taken by the Juba government, saying it would greatly affect most South Sudanese families in Kenya.

"Such a decision will have implication on studies of South Sudanese who are in Kenya for better education purposes," said the humanitarian worker now on vacation in Kenya.

He appealed to government to reverse its recent decision, which he described as another way of denying students from the young nation access to better education.

Dak Buoth, a former South Sudanese student’s chairman, was equally shocked over the government’s alleged decision to bar its nationals from accessing their bank accounts.

“Kenya is a second home to thousands of South Sudanese. And Kenya Commercial Bank was one of their preferred banks under recognition of the Kenya constitution that favoured every individual,” Dak told Sudan Tribune over phone from the Kenyan capital.

"If KCB tries to come back with the process that customers previously invested, however, customers have a right to take legal action that will seek for their legal address,” he added.

Goak Buoth Chuol, a South Sudanese student at the Rift Valley University, separately told Sudan Tribune that the decision allegedly made by the Juba-based government on KCB operations would make life difficult for thousands of South Sudanese living in Kenya.

“The decision will force some vulnerable South Sudanese families whose children study in Nairobi to leave the town because they will have no money to pay the school fees and [for] house renting” he said.

A KCB staff in Nairobi confirmed the matter, which reportedly came in the wake of a circular the bank issued warning against giving South Sudanese nationals foreign currencies.

"The bank is negotiating with concerned authorities to lift sanctions on individuals’ accounts especially for South Sudanese nationals", the staff told Sudan Tribune by phone.

"The decision was for only Kenya as a country preventing South Sudanese from having access to their accounts. I don’t know motives behind the account blockage", he added.

Although Sudan Tribune could not independently verify the authenticity of these claims, neither the Juba government nor the Kenyan-based bank have officially reacted to this.

The Juba government has expressed concerns over the Kenyan government’s decision to allow rebels loyal to its former vice president, Riek Machar operate from its territory.


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