, LONDON, Feb 23 – President Mwai Kibaki has called for focused and concerted international efforts in dealing with the security and humanitarian crisis in Somalia.
Speaking on Thursday during the London conference on Somalia at Lancaster House, President Kibaki said that a new and more dangerous theatre for terrorist action has emerged in Somalia following the involvement of Al Qaeda elements in the Al Shabaab insurgency.
Noting that Kenya has recently apprehended a number of foreign fighters within the Al Shabaab ranks, President Kibaki said it is now clear that the insurgents in Somalia are part and parcel of the Al Qaeda international terrorist networks.
He noted that the involvement of Al-Qaeda elements within the Al-Shabaab ranks was a wake-up call to the international community to enhance security measures in order to effectively counter terrorism not only in Somalia and neighbouring states but in the world at large.
In this connection, President Kibaki lauded the efforts of United Nations Security Council towards strengthening the operations of the African Union Mission in Somali.
“Kenya welcomes the United Nations Security Council Resolution No. 2036 of 2012 that has reviewed the AMISOM future operations in Somalia, as recommended by the African Union.”
The president however noted that the resolution did not provide for a maritime component, which is critical to the eventual success of the campaign in Somalia, as well as the fight against piracy and international terrorism.
To further enhance security in Somalia, President Kibaki underscored the need for the development of a Somali national security force.
“There is need to support the setting up of a nucleus Somali armed force. This demands that the international community facilitates the immediate integration of the various trained units into the TFG force. Such action will also enable the TFG to take effective control of the liberated areas,” the president said.
Regarding the humanitarian crisis, President Kibaki noted that the number of Somalis fleeing to Kenya far outweighed the capacity of the country.
“It is adversely impacting our political and socio-economic dynamics. It is posing growing and serious security threats to Kenya and the region” the President said.
The president further added, “The refugee camps in Kenya are overcrowded, have caused huge environmental degradation, have led to growing tensions with host populations and are infiltrated by extremists. This is the reality of the humanitarian and security crisis that Kenya continues to bear.”
In this regard, President Kibaki underscored the need for the conference to map out a firm and durable solution, including the return of refugees to their home country.
“Therefore, the humanitarian actors should now take advantage of the areas secured from the Al Shabaab to resettle these populations. This is a matter of utmost urgency as Kenya can no longer continue carrying the burden occasioned by this situation,” President Kibaki said.
Noting that security in the Horn of Africa is inextricably linked to long lasting peace and stability in Somalia; President Kibaki affirmed Kenya’s continued commitment to the search for durable peace in Somalia.
“We facilitated the peace process that led to the formation of the Transitional Federal Government in 2005. And we continue to bear the burden of hosting the largest population of Somalis outside their country, including some 630,000 refugees in the Dadaab camps, and an even larger number spread across the country,” the president added.
In addition to this, President Kibaki noted that Kenya launched ”Operation Linda Nchi” in October 2011 in pursuit of Al Shabaab and other armed terrorist elements that sought to destabilise the Kenyan economy and the states within the region.
The president expressed satisfaction that the operation has been successful in routing out the Al Shabaab saying the operation has so far liberated large territory and populations from Al Shabaab control and significantly reduced the incidence of piracy off the Somalia coast.
Acknowledging the role of other neighbouring countries in the search for peace in Somalia, President Kibaki hailed Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia and Djibouti for their contribution and called on other African countries that have made their offers to assist Somalia to fulfill their pledges.
On its part, President Kibaki called upon the international community to acknowledge, recognise and build on the efforts and successes achieved by neighbouring states.