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Photo of diplomats fleeing Kenya before the 2023 nationwide protests? No, photo shows US student athletes in 2013

IN SHORT: A photo of passengers boarding a Kenya Airways flight is doing the rounds in Kenya, with the claim that it shows foreigners fleeing the country ahead of protests. This is not true. The photo is of student athletes in 2013.

Photos circulating on Facebook in Kenya show passengers boarding a Kenya Airways plane.


The accompanying text reads: “Happening now at JKIA. Why are diplomats leaving Kenya in such a hurry and short notice? Is there something they know that we don't?”

Kenya Airways is the national carrier, while JKIA stands for the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Kenya’s largest airport.

One of the photos was posted on 16 July 2023, just days before the three-day protests called by Kenyan opposition leader, Raila Odinga, mainly over the high cost of living

In a joint statement on 18 July, a group of embassies and high commissions expressed concern over the violence and destruction of property during the protests. 

Local groups including the Nairobi business community and Maendeleo ya Wanawake called for the protests to stop, citing financial loss as businesses were forced to close during the demonstrations. 

The circulating photos allege that foreign diplomats are leaving the country over the insecurity and chaos caused by the nationwide protests. 

This claim, if believed, could influence Kenyans’ perception of the protests’ effectiveness and possibly lead to less foreign investment in the country.

The photos have also been posted here on Facebook.

But are these photos of diplomats leaving Kenya in a hurry and on short notice? We checked.

Image from 2013 of student athletes

A reverse image search reveals that the images are from 2013. They show Commodore student athletes from the University of Vanderbilt in the US state of Tennessee, travelling to Tanzania.

The group was on a mission to donate shoes and clothes to those in need, and offer their athletic expertise.

The photo from 2013 was of US student athletes, and not of foreign diplomats leaving Kenya in 2023.


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