NAIROBI, Kenya, May 29 – Kenya’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Environment Programme Martin Kimani has assured the international community that every effort is being made to guarantee the safety of over 100 ministers set to attend the inaugural United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in June.
He said the visiting dignitaries would be accorded a security detail to escort them to and from the airport, their hotels and the United Nations offices in Nairobi (UNON) so they should not be cowed by the recent spate of terror attacks.
“They have nothing to fear. This is an opportunity for the international community to stand in solidarity with Kenya and let those who wish us harm know that they are far from winning the war. Just like the United Nations General Assembly did following the 9/11 attacks on America,” he said.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner told Capital FM News that UNON itself was on high alert and committed to the safety not only of its delegates but of its staff.
“If I was to tell you that I am not concerned you would not believe me and rightly so but as I’m sure you know, we’ve stepped up our security measures at UNON and we’ve taken every precaution necessary in the past few weeks in preparation for the Assembly,” he said. READ: UN heightens security in its Nairobi office.
He and Kimani however stopped short of divulging the details of those measures, “in the interest of security.”
They were both also equally adamant that the security concerns in the country should not take away from the historic nature of UNEA and its agenda.
“I’ve lived here for eight years so I’ve been affected on a somewhat personal level by the security threats to Kenya but I haven’t let it scare me into inaction and neither should our delegates,” Steiner urged.
Recently, American Ambassador Robert Godec revealed that US government was considering scaling down its embassy staff due to increased security concerns. READ: US signals staff cut at Nairobi embassy over terror threats.
UNEA also comes at a time (June 23 to 27) when the US, United Kingdom, Australia and France have issued travel advisories against Kenya in response to the terror attacks.
“Unfortunately, the US government continues to receive information about potential terrorist threats aimed at both Kenyans and the international community. The most important responsibility of every US ambassador and embassy is to protect American citizens and to keep them informed,” Godec explained.
The Kenyan government has however roundly criticised the advisories, which led to the exodus of hundreds of tourists, branding them an over-reaction.
“Issuance of such travel advisories only plays to the whims of bad elements of society whose aim is to spread fear and panic among otherwise peace loving people,” Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Karanja Kibichio sought to impress upon the international community. READ: Kenya slams travel bans by Britain, US