NAIROBI, KENYA - 2019/08/07: Margaret Achieng who lost her daughter to the August 7, 1998 bombing of US Embassy in Nairobi seen praying at the August 7th Memorial Park.
Washington CNN  — 

Twenty-two years ago Friday, twin bombings rocked the US Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

224 people were killed in the 1998 attacks claimed by al-Qaeda. 54 were embassy employees or contractors; 12 were American citizens. Thousands, including 139 embassy employees or contractors, were injured. Edith Bartley, Rizwan Khaliq, Ellen Marie Richards and countless others’ lives were altered in an instant.

This year, Bartley, Richards and Khaliq are among those urging Congress to ratify a settlement between the US and Sudan in which the latter would pay $335 million to compensate survivors and victim’s families. The settlement faces opposition from those who see it as unfair and inequitable – it would give a substantially smaller payout to those who were not US citizens at the time of the attacks.

Richards, who was left blind and with post traumatic stress disorder from the blast in Kenya, said her “whole world was turned upside down.”

“For 22 years, myself and my family has been living with the devastation that was caused on August seventh,” recalled Khaliq, who was also posted in Nairobi.

Bartley lost her father, who was consul general in Nairobi, and brother, who had been an intern. In the more than two decades since, she has worked to advocate on behalf of her family and others whose loved ones were killed in the bombing.

Sudan, under the leadership of now-ousted strongman Omar al-Bashir, sheltered Osama bin Laden and was found to have assisted the al Qaeda operatives. The nation has been listed as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1993.

With the country under the leadership of a transitional government, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has signaled an openness to removing that designation

“I think lifting the state sponsor terrorism designation there…if we can take care of those victim of those tragedies, that would be a good thing for American foreign policy,” Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week.

The survivors and families are urging Congress to take advantage of the agreement before the opportunity is lost due to political and Covid-related instability.

However, opponents have criticized the inequitable payments under the settlement. Less than one-third of the payment – $100 million – would be allocated for compensating those who were foreign nationals at the time of the attacks, even if they have since become US citizens. Sen. Robert Menendez, the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the Washington Post that the settlement was “deeply flawed.”

Khaliq acknowledged in a recent call with reporters that “the settlement may not be perfect in all terms, but sometimes … perfect can be the enemy of good.”

“This is the first time in as long as I can remember that we have an opportunity to not only hold a country accountable for what they did at that time in history, but also help a country become part of the world economy, help a country set up path towards improving lives of their citizens,” he said, referencing the prospect of Sudan being de-listed as a state sponsor of terrorism.

“If I could give them back every penny I’ve ever received for my vision, I’d be happy,” Richards said. “I don’t need to have money. But I have to tell you the truth, the money gives me back the ability to do things that I haven’t been able to do.”