Somali Magazine – In a significant move towards regional integration and security, Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia have launched a project to reopen their borders. The initiative, dubbed “Deris Wanaag” in Somali, which translates to “Good Neighborliness,” aims to find a lasting solution to the perennial insecurity and instability in the Horn of Africa nations.
The border crossings between these three countries have been partially or fully closed in recent years due to security issues. Despite the official closures, militants, criminals, and regular migrants have been able to cross borders with little problem. This has led to a stalemate in the Horn of Africa over security concerns.
The project was launched in the border town of Mandera by Kenya’s Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua. He emphasized that infrastructural development is silenced by armed conflicts and that the gun must be silenced for industries to roar back. The project is expected to improve socio-economic development between the three countries.
The U.K.-funded initiative is a strategic investment for Kenya and the Horn of Africa region. British High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriot highlighted the numerous challenges the region faces together, including drought, resource conflicts, armed proliferation, and terrorism. She also pointed out the positive aspects that the program aims to enhance.
The governments plan to implement measures to eradicate conflict, such as improving road and water infrastructure networks, as well as enhancing education. They also aim to tackle the root cause of terrorism through intelligence and putting greater manpower on the border to catch al-Shabab insurgents.
Kenya had closed its official border posts with Somalia in 2012 to hinder al-Shabab’s movements. The border closures included the Mandera border post as well as Lamu, Wajir, and Garissa border crossings. However, earlier this year, Kenya announced it is reopening its border with Somalia and Ethiopia.
Somalia Minister for Security Mohamed Ahmed Sheikh said the project is timely and will effectively tackle cross-border insecurity challenges. He emphasized the spirit of collective solidarity and the need to forge a common destiny.
The project launch happened a day after a security compact was signed between Kenya and the United Kingdom. The project, worth over Ksh1.7 billion ($12 million), will run over the next three years with a view to improving regional security and countering extremism.