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Thursday, June 8, 2023


    Kenya and Somalia have agreed to reopen their land border.

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    Kenya and Somalia announced on Monday an agreement to reopen their land border at three places by July 1, which had been closed since 2011 owing to the Shebab insurgency.

    The statement came following a meeting in Nairobi between ministerial delegations from the two nations to discuss concerns of security, trade, and people movement.

    “We are looking into the possibility of reopening the border,” Kenya’s interior minister, Kithure Kindiki, said at a joint press conference. “We have decided that the border between Somalia and Kenya will be reopened in a phased manner over the next 90 days” via three border crossings.

    He stated that the Mandera-Bulahawa border post “must be opened within the next 30 days,” followed by the Liboi-Harhar border post “in 60 days from today,” and the Kiunga-Ras Kamboni border post on July 1.

    Aside from these three locations, which are located in the Kenyan counties of Mandera, Wajir, and Lamu, he noted that “we are also studying the possibility of adding a fourth border crossing” in Wajir.

    The two countries proclaimed their intention to restore the border in July, but this never happened.

    Nairobi officially closed the border between Kenya and Somalia in October 2011 in an attempt to halt attacks on Kenyan land by radical Somali Islamists Shebab, including kidnappings of tourists and international humanitarian workers.

    Shortly after, the Kenyan army entered in Somalia to fight the Shebab. In 2012, his men joined the African Union army in Somalia (Amisom, renamed Atmis), which forced the Shebab out of key strongholds.

    Since 2011, Kenya has been the victim of multiple deadly Shebab assaults, most notably on the Westgate retail center in Nairobi (September 2013, 67 killed), the University of Garissa (April 2015, 148 killed), and the hotel complex Dusit (January 2019, 21 dead).

    Many such smaller attacks on police and people along the border occur on a regular basis. In principle, the two countries are allies in the war against Shebab, but their relations are strained.

    Somalia has often accused Kenya of meddling, while Nairobi has accused Mogadishu of seeking a scapegoat for its domestic problems. Somalia cut diplomatic relations with Kenya in December 2020, only to reestablish them in August 2021.

    The two countries have also disagreed over the location of their maritime border in the Indian Ocean.

    The International Court of Justice, the UN’s highest legal body, agreed with Somalia in October, handing it a large territory of 100,000 km2 rich in fish and prospective hydrocarbons. This decision was officially rejected by Kenya.

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