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5/16/2023 Kenya (International Christian Concern)The Kenya- Somali governments agreed to reopen four major border points closed in 2011 when Kenya sent its forces into southern Somalia to help fight the al-Shabaab terror group.  

“We have resolved that the border between Kenya and Somalia will be reopened in a phased-out manner within 90 days, effective today, 15th May 2023. First to open is the Bula Hawa border point in Mandera, followed by the Liboi-Dobley border point in Garissa, then the Kiunga-Ras Kamboni border point in Lamu, and finally the Wajir border,” said Kenya’s Interior Cabinet Secretary, Kithure Kindiki, at the joint press conference in Nairobi.  

Kindiki noted that the closure of the Kenya-Somali border has had adverse socio-economic effects, especially in the northeastern region of Kenya, while a reopening might cause security concerns. 

“Kenya and Somalia will continuously engage to enhance cross-border experiences, activities, and engagements, keeping in mind the emerging security trends and dynamics that transcend national, regional, and continental boundaries,” said Kindiki. “The two governments agreed to strengthen cross-border communication and information sharing, develop modalities of addressing cross-border challenges and enhance border infrastructure, management, and capacity.” 

However, this move has elicited mixed reactions from the citizens of Kenya, some praising the government as others cast fears of a possible increase in terrorist activities inside Kenya.  

A trader in Mandera town of Somali descent who claimed anonymity said, “This is a huge step towards the improvement of bilateral trade and brotherliness between both nations. An open border will ensure that goods from Somalia come to Kenya and Kenyans also send goods to Somalia, creating employment for the locals and reducing the cost of items. We applaud the two governments for taking this bold step.”  

A nonlocal resident in Garissa town expressed fears following the reopening of these border points. 

“Yes, the cost of living has been rising, and fewer economic opportunities experienced since the closing of the borders with Somalia, but we cannot ignore the decline in terrorism witnessed over the years after our forces went into Somalia. Churches have been growing, and security improved. We have had a few cases where nonlocal people, the majority being Christians, have been attacked and killed,” said the Garissa resident. 

Somalia is the base of the Islamist insurgent group al-Shabaab which is allied to al-Qaeda, and it has been waging a violent insurgency in the East and the Horn of Africa region for more than 15 years. It is everybody’s hope that the reopening of the border points would improve trade relations while the government ensures that regional security and stability are not compromised.