Kenya: Govt Suspends Kenya-Somalia Border Re-Opening Following Increased Terror Attacks

Nairobi — The government has temporarily suspended its plans to reopen Kenya-Somalia border points following a surge in terrorist attacks in the Northern region.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki stated that the government will only consider reopening the borders once they have effectively addressed the issue of cross-border crimes and terrorism that has plagued the area.

Kindiki announced the delay on Wednesday during a visit to the Dagahaley and Ifo 2 Refugee camps in Garissa’s Dadaab camp.

He pointed out that despite the setback, both governments remain committed to reopening the border to improve cross-border trade and co-operation.

“We are still on track to reopen the border points. However, owing to the recent surge in terrorist activities in the last two months, we have temporarily halted the plans in order to first deal with the terrorist elements within our borders before resuming the plans,” Kindiki said.

The recent upsurge in terrorist activities has been attributed to Al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group based in Somalia.

The terrorist elements have targeted both civilians and security personnel operating in the region in recent months further exacerbating the security concerns.

In the last month at least 30 people have been killed and dozens injured in separate attacks in Wajir, Garissa, Mandera and Lamu counties blamed on the Al-Shabaab militants.

On May 15, Kenya and Somalia officials endorsed the phased reopening of three border posts between the two countries over a 90-day period.

The border points 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.

Kindiki said 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 stated 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.

Anti-terrorism efforts

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 commended 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.

Cross-border cooperation

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.