Kenya/Somalia- Kenya finalizes reopening of its border with Somalia after a decade of closure due to jihadist threat

File – Ugandan and Somali soldiers in an operation against Al Shabaab forces (file image). – STUART PRICE / ZUMA PRESS / CONTACTOPHOTO

The Kenyan government is finalizing plans to reopen, in a matter of days, its first border crossing with Somalia after nearly a decade of closure due to the threat of the jihadist organization Al Shabaab, in a gesture of cooperation with the Somali authorities, now in «total war» against the terrorist organization.

Following high-level consultations between the two countries, Kenya plans to reopen the Mandera crossing in the short term, Kenya’s National Security Minister Kithure Kindiki confirmed during a visit to the border town.

«I have directed the county security teams to meet with the government agencies that are represented here, including customs, immigration, and assess the requirements and provide information within a week to reactivate the border,» he said in remarks picked up by Voice of America, the U.S. international broadcaster.

It should be recalled that Kenya has joined Ethiopia and Djibouti in launching a joint military offensive to assist Somalia against Al Shabaab insurgents, as agreed by the leaders of the four countries at a meeting in Mogadishu this week.

Kenya closed all its official border crossings with Somalia in 2012 in a bid to stop insurgent incursions operating from the Somali side. The closed border points included the Mandera crossing, as well as those at Lamu, Wajir and Garisa, but the closure has not stopped illegal crossing across the border, nor has it stopped smuggling.

Over the past five years, northeastern Kenya has suffered a long series of attacks by Al Shabaab, one of Africa’s most vicious terrorist organizations. In its deadliest attack, the jihadist group killed nearly 150 people in 205 during an assault on Garisa University.