Nairobi — Kenya and Somalia officials have endorsed the phased reopening of three border posts between the two countries over a 90-day period.
The border points in located in Garissa, Mandera and Lamu counties were closed under former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration in 2011 as a result of increased attacks by the Somalia-based Al-Shabaab terror outfit which affiliated to Al-Qaeda.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki said Monday during a joint media briefing with his Somalia counterpart Mohamed Sheikh Ali, that the move is part of the efforts to enhance to cross-border co-operation and bilateral ties between Kenya and Somalia.
CS Kindiki said that the Mandera-Bula Hawa border point will be the first to be opened after 30 days. This will be followed by the opening of Liboi-Harhar-Dhobley on the Somalia side and Kiunga-Ras Kamboni border point in Lamu within ninety days.
“The first border point provides an entry point from the Kenyan side in Mandera County, the second border point provides an entry point from the Kenyan side in Garissa County, and the last border point in Kiunga will eb able to provide an entry point from the Kenyan side in Lamu County,” Kindiki said following a high -level meeting that was also attended by Somalia’s Minister for Defence Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur and Abshir Omar Jama, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Kenya’s Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale.
CS Kindiki said that Kenya and Somalia continue to experience both intra and inter-state security threats emanating from Al-Shabaab terrorist group with increased prevalence along the shared border areas.
As a result, Kindiki said that there was need for the two countries to step up their efforts to counter violent extremism.
He noted that terrorism poses a threat to peace and stability at both the national and regional levels.
“The deliberations noted the need to enhance co-operation and partnership between our two neighborly countries purpose to address the challenges to foster regional integration,” Kindiki said.
He said during the meeting, both governments recognized and commented the complimentary role played by development partners in the fight against terror, violent extremism, cross border organized crime and the value addition to efforts to maintains peace and security in the region.
The Interior CS pledged Kenya’s commitment to enhancing cross-border engagements keeping in mind the emerging security trends and dynamics paradigms that transcend national, regional and continental boundaries.
“We wish to affirm our commitment as the Government of Kenya of our continuous engagement with our development partners to ensure that our common objective of safety for all our, people, communities and the world at large is achieved,” he said.
CS Kindiki further said that the two countries further resolved to strengthen cross-border communication and information sharing exchange, enhance border infrastructure and management and develop modalities of addressing cross-border challenges between the two countries.
The two states further resolved to enhance the operational and capacity of the border security and law enforcement agencies to effectively respond to cross-border threats.
Mohamed Ahmed Sheikh Ali, Somalia’s Internal Security Minister said that the cross-border challenges experienced by communities in both sides of the common border are too complex for one country to address.
He singled out recurrent droughts, human trafficking, illegal trade and transnational crimes as some of the major challenges facing the communities residing in border areas.
“However, by working together and leveraging our historical and bilateral ties between our two countries, citizens of both Somalia and Kenya can enjoy enhanced food security, improved infrastructure, increased exchange of goods and services and overall sustainable long-lasting peace,” Ali said.
He noted that Somalia is equally committed to working with development partners to enhance cross-border security and co-operation.