, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 8 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has commended and welcomed Kenya’s leadership role in efforts to stabilize Somalia.
He especially pointed out at the great sacrifice Kenya had taken in efforts that have given the people of Somalia the best opportunity for stability and prosperity after 20 years of civil war.
At a meeting with President Mwai Kibaki at Harambee House, Ban said that the United Nations and the international community will support the latest initiatives that have seen Kenyan Defence Forces and those of the TFG work together in an operation to deal with the destabilising forces of the Al-Shabaab.
Ban told President Kibaki that he fully understood the position taken by Kenya’s operation in Somalia. He lauded the decision taken by the Cabinet and approved by the Kenyan Parliament to re-hat Kenyan forces in Somalia under the Amisom command.
The UN Secretary-General assured the government and people of Kenya that the United Nation’s would support the efforts of Kenya, IGAD and the Africa Union in efforts to bring about stability in Somalia.
On his part President Kibaki said that the people of Somalia had a historic opportunity to bring about peace and stability to their country and encouraged the United Nations to take an even more pro-active role in the quest for peace and stability in Somalia.
The President updated Ban on steps that the Kenya Defence Forces were taking to restore order and provide humanitarian assistance in areas liberated from the destructive work of Al-Shabaab.
The President pointed out that all Kenya wanted was a peaceful and prosperous Somalia that could once again be home to the over 600,000 refugees currently camped in Kenya.
Noting that the security and humanitarian crisis in the war-torn country remained a major concern not only to the neighbouring countries and the region but also to the whole continent, President Kibaki called for a collective solution to the problem.
The Head of State emphasised that Kenya remained fully committed to the search for sustainable peace in Somalia.
He reiterated that Kenya’s mission is based on a legitimate right to protect its security, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The Head of State observed that the long term solution to the twin burden of Somali refugees and famine that is shouldered by Kenya was to assist stabilise their country to convince them to voluntarily return to their farms and towns.
President Kibaki welcomed the UN Security Council resolution on additional sanctions against Eritrea for undermining peace and stability in Somalia through provision of political, financial, training and logistical support to Al-Shabaab among other armed opposition groups.
The Head of State stressed that since the launch of the Kenya Defence Forces(KDF)/ Transition Federal Government (TFG) joint military operation, most towns in Southern Somalia have been secured.
Briefing the UN Secretary-General on KDF mission in Somalia, the President said Kenya and the TFG were cooperating in undertaking the joint security operation in the South and Central part of the country to stamp out threats posed by the Al-Shabaab to Kenya’s economic and national interests.
“Besides hunting for Al-Shabaab remnants in captured towns, KDF and TFG are engaged on saving the lives of famine victims by providing food, water, medication and security,” the President informed the UN boss.
The Kenya Government has secured moral and political support from various nations and organizations including the Commonwealth, AU, EU, Indian Ocean Rim Association, EAC, ACP-EU and Comesa, President Kibaki said.
The President assured the Secretary-General that Kenya will continue to respect its international obligations of hosting and protecting refugees despite the fact that the camps have been infiltrated by some armed Al-Shabaab elements.
He called on the humanitarian agencies and the international community to reciprocate Kenya’s hospitality in hosting the refugees by partnering to share the enormous burden presented by the refugees.
“The Humanitarian situation in Dadaab and IFO II camps, with over 600,000 refugees, remains dire causing high levels of malnutrition and other diseases,” observed the President.
Al-Shabaab, President Kibaki said, remained the sole enemy to humanitarian operations by continuing to ban them from reaching needy populations.
He called on the UN Security Council to seize the window of opportunity created by the security operation to enhance the mandate, size and level of Amisom while providing appropriate enablers of peace and stability in Mogadishu and other liberated areas to avert the risk of a vacuum upon withdrawal of Kenyan troops.
President Kibaki and Ban also discussed the role of United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON).
Present were Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula, Internal Security Minister George Saitoti, Assistant Minister Richard Onyonka and the Head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Muthaura.