Kenyan bomb blast victims slam US, Sudan compensation plan

An aerial view of the US Embassy in Nairobi following the bombing on August 7, 1998. 

Photo credit: File | Reuters

New York. A section of Kenyans seeking compensation for the 1998 US embassy bombing in Nairobi have said that they oppose the terms of a proposed compensation deal that will potentially see America lift sanctions against Sudan.

This comes after US President Donald Trump announced on Monday that he intends to remove Sudan from a list of countries said to sponsor terrorism.

"GREAT news! New government of Sudan, which is making great progress, agreed to pay $335 MILLION to US terror victims and families. Once deposited, I will lift Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list. At long last, JUSTICE for the American people and BIG step for Sudan!" Trump declared yesterday.

However, a section of Kenyan survivors and families of those who died in the attack say the plan, which will see native-born Americans receive hundreds of millions more in compensation, is discriminatory.

Under the agreement with the US, Sudan would be expected to pay a total of $335 million (about Sh36 billion) to victims of the embassy bombing and a separate attack on a US Navy ship in the year 2000. 

The families of native-born Americans killed in the Nairobi blast are set to receive $10 million (about Sh1 billion), while US citizens injured in the explosion will get $3 million (about Sh326 million) in compensation.

However, families of Kenyan nationals who were employed at the embassy and who died in the attack are to be paid $800,000 (about Sh87 million) while injured Kenyan employees are to receive $400,000 (about Sh43 million).

Kenyans reject deal

A Washington attorney representing hundreds of the Kenyan victims seeking compensation said in a statement on Monday that most of his clients reject what he calls “a discriminatory plan where compensation is dependent on a victim’s nation of birth rather than severity of injury.”

The proposed settlement “sets the value of a US embassy employee born in Africa at only 8 per cent of an employee born in America,” said attorney Gavriel Marone.

Kenyans who became naturalised US citizens are treated in the agreement as non-Americans, Mr Mairone noted.

And close to a third of victims covered by the US Supreme Court judgments would not receive any payments under the provisions of the deal.

Doreen Oport, an embassy employee who became a US citizen after the attack, said she and the more than 500 bombing victims opposed to the deal “want a resolution but cannot accept one that betrays so many US embassy victims and the most basic principles of American justice.”

“Sudan’s offer intentionally discriminates against victims with the least political clout,” Ms Oport added.

The deal will not be finalised until the US Congress decides whether Sudan should be held liable for the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington because it had harboured al-Qaeda operatives.

Senator Robert Mendendez, a Democrat with a key role on this issue, has said the concerns of embassy bombing victims must be resolved before the US Congress takes action required to certify Sudan's removal from the terrorism list.

The planned arrangement represents a victory for Sudan's year-old reform-minded government that has sought to shed the 'terrorism-sponsor' tag so it can access global financial markets.

American courts had previously ruled that Sudan helped organise the terror attack that killed more than 200 Kenyans and a dozen US citizens 22 years ago.

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