Oct 17, 2011

Somali refugees need not be victimized

Kenyan security apparatus seem to be pretty determined to keep off the al Shabaab out of the Kenyan territory. This follows a series of provocations by the terror group in the past few months. The group must have found their easy way into Kenya after being trounced in Mogadishu by the federal government of Somalia.

Dadaab refugee camp is said to be the militia’s hunting ground. Already two aid workers have been abducted from the camp. Well this is not shocking because the camp is not far from the Somalia boarder. What is shocking is that the whole camp is manned by only 255 police officers.

It just beats logic how an overpopulated camp hosting over a half a million refugees can be made secure by 255 police officers. The government recently facilitated the reopening of IFO II camp for an influx of Somali refugees. One wonders why no measures were taken to increase the presence of police officers.

The government has announced a major manhunt of the militia within the camps. Security has now been beefed up and all refugees will be screened. This is really desperate but necessary at this critical time even though the government is responsible for their entry at Liboi boarder point.

The screening of refugees however should not be dramatized. It should be professionally done until the al Shabaab is completely wiped out of camps. The police should be careful not to commit atrocities against innocent refugees. It should be remembered that most refugees are women and children who walked long distances seeking tranquility.


Embrace our military move with caution

Most of us are excited that Kenya has finally made a bold move to protect our territorial boundaries. Our military is now flexing its muscle deep into Somalia pursuing the Alshabaab militants. The prudent move is said to have been instigated by the kidnapping of two Spanish aid workers in Dadaab refugee camp and a French woman from the coastal town of Lamu.

Security has of course been beefed up all across the country perhaps to show the world that Kenya is indeed in control of its internal security. This happens a mid reports that some governments have already asked their citizens living in Kenya to be cautious. In fact some hotels at the coast may have closed down already as tourists embark on moving elsewhere.

Questions may however arise as to why the government did not react with the same vigor to other attacks allegedly by the same terror group. Indeed, we recently had grenade attacks in our capital city Nairobi. Petrol bombs that killed people and injured several others remain mysterious.  

Fishermen along the Kenyan coast have repeatedly been captured by unknown assailants.
Our security apparatus were still in complacency even when it became apparent that Kenyan youth were being recruited by the terror group.

Alshabaab may be targeting foreigners for ransom but for heaven sake, it has been luring our young people for human resource! Did the government have to wait until foreign citizens are kidnapped to do the right thing? This is not to suggest that only Kenyan citizens should be provided with sufficient security.

Never the less, it is encouraging that the government is finally doing something. Now that the military is in control, we may feel a little safer but we must keep asking ourselves how we got here. Our military is not used to respond to external aggression especially against a terror group. Does it have a strategic plan and what really do we intend to achieve.

Alshabaab is closely related to Al-Qaeda which has hit us quite a few times in the past. Do we intend to permanently keep its militants away from our boundaries or do we just want to deter them? These are critical concerns that need to be addressed because it will be useless to declare war on Alshabaab only to invite merciless retaliation against innocent Kenyans in future. We should be reminded that quite frequently, fire begets ashes but occasionally it spawns more fires.