COVID-19 “impact on vulnerable populations” a Concern for Bishops in Kenya

Bishop Virgilio Pante during Mass at Holy Family Basilica Nairobi, Kenya on Corpus Christi Sundy 2020.

The effects of COVID-19 restrictions on “vulnerable populations” including displaced persons and “those on the move” is a cause for concern for Catholic Bishops in Kenya who are appealing to various stakeholders including Government to intervene “urgently”.

“As we continue to combat COVID-19, we are concerned about its impact on vulnerable populations including refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and people on the move e.g. truck drivers, pastoralists, persons living on the streets and persons with mental illness,” the Bishops in Kenya have said in a collective statement read out on Corpus Christi Sunday, June 14.

The Bishops note that refugees and IDPs residing in densely populated camps face the risk of contracting COVID-19. They appeal for “deliberate mitigation measures” to be “urgently implemented” in order to protect these vulnerable groups of people.

In their collective message, which Bishop Virgilio Pante read out at the end of the televised Mass at Holy Family Minor Basilica in Nairobi, the Bishops note that “although reported cases of COVID-19 among pastoralist communities are low, there is need for sensitization of these communities on COVID-19 risk factors and preventive measures.”

As a way forward, the Bishops appeal to both County and National Governments in Kenya “to continue raising awareness among the pastoralist communities.”


Truck drivers who “contribute immensely to the health of our country” and seem to be contracting COVID-19 in high numbers is “a matter of great concern” for the Bishops.

The Catholic Church leaders note a gap in addressing the safety and health of the truck drivers and “appeal to the government to urgently address the challenges … in order to curb the rising spread of COVID-19,”

The Bishops are also concerned about people living on the streets and those suffering from mental illness who they consider to be in “a more precarious situation with a higher risk of contracting, spreading and being overwhelmed by COVID-19.”

They express appreciation for the initiatives from many philanthropists helping those living on the streets and mentally challenged with food but acknowledge that other aspects of the wellbeing and healthcare of these vulnerable individuals need attention amid COVID-19 pandemic.

In their collective message read out by Bishop Pante who is the Local Ordinary of Kenya’s Maralal Diocese and doubles as the Chairman of the Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Seafarers of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), Bishops in Kenya encourage the people of God to support Church initiatives through its development and humanitarian arm, Caritas.

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“As KCCB, we continue to appeal to Christians and people of goodwill to make contributions in cash and in kind to our Caritas kitty to enable us support the victims affected by COVID-19 and floods,” the Bishops say in their June 14 message.

The plight of women and children who seem to bear the brunt in the increased cases of gender-based violence (GBV) amid COVID-19 restrictions is another cause for concern for the Bishops in Kenya who underscore the effects of such violence on the mental health of the victims.

They have appealed to family members tempted to engage in domestic violence to exercise restraint and embrace the virtues of “patience, dialogue, forgiveness and peace building during these extraordinary times.”

The Bishops appeal to the victims of domestic violence and their caregivers to “speak out and seek for help from the religious leaders, hospitals, counsellors.”

“Our unity, solidarity and sense of hope are key to defeating COVID-19,” the Bishops say.


“I wish to reiterate the Catholic Bishops’ appreciation for all those who are on the frontline in combatting COVID-19,” Bishop Pante said on behalf of the Catholic Bishops in Kenya and added, “We owe much gratitude to the health workers who are risking their lives to care and treat those who have contracted the disease.”

“We believe that the spread of the virus would have been worse without your effort and commitment,” Bishop Pante said in reference to health workers and caregivers and implored God to keep them safe.




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