Nairobi (Caasimada Online) – In an effort to restore trade and facilitate people’s movement, plans are underway to reopen three border points between Kenya and Somalia.
The first meeting took place today in Nairobi, led by Interior and National Administration Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki.
The border points, Mandera/Belet Hawo (Belethawa), Liboi-Harhar/Dhobley, and Kiunga/Ras Kamboni, have been closed for 12 years due to the threat of terrorism.
Secretary Kindiki highlighted the importance of the talks, “We will have important engagements on Monday morning with the Somalia delegation with the view of reopening the three border points between the two countries,” he said.
The aim is to decide on whether and when to reopen the borders.
This meeting is a follow-up to discussions held last year between former President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Somali counterpart Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
During those talks, the leaders announced steps to address security concerns along the shared border and the reopening of three border points.
Today’s high-level ministerial meeting will deliberate on a roadmap to reopen the borders, contributing to regional integration and sustainable development.
Addressing security concerns
The closed border points were critical ports of entry. Their closure in 2011, at the peak of the al-Shabab attacks, negatively impacted cross-border trade and the free movement of people and goods.
The al Shabaab terror group’s constant invasions prompted Kenya to send its military to Somalia to neutralize the armed criminals.
Today’s meeting will provide a platform for six Cabinet ministers from both countries to discuss common security threats, improve border management, and share ideas on border security management.
They will also tackle cross-border crime, trade facilitation, mobility dynamics, and strategies to promote greater coordination between Kenya and Somalia.
Interior PS Raymond Omollo, who chairs the border coordination and operations committee, is leading the technical team working on reopening these critical border points.
Seeking partnerships for security
On Thursday, during the launch of the Kenya-Somalia-Ethiopia Borderlands Security project, funded by the UK, Secretary Kindiki and his Somali security counterpart emphasized the need for renewed partnerships.
They stressed the necessity of joint efforts to secure the North from terror groups and tackle complex and sensitive security threats.
“…The programs we run as governments must be alive to the complex security we face today as a region. We all must walk together, hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder, to deliver for our people in the region.” Secretary Kindiki said.
However, the implementation of this project will be subject to consultation and consensus with Kenya’s neighbors, Somalia and Ethiopia.
The closure of these official entry points has led to the proliferation of illicit flows of people, arms, and contraband goods across the borders, which both nations are eager to curb.