Last week, Australia alerted Kenya of the possibility of a terrorist attack on the country. The Australian embassy in Nairobi warned its citizens from visiting Nairobi and Mombasa only two days after the United States embassy in Uganda warned of possible attacks in Kampala in areas frequented by foreigners.
Kenya and Uganda have been instrumental in fighting Al-Shabaab militias in Somalia. The bulk of the African Union forces in Somalia comprise Kenyan and Ugandan soldiers, and this makes them a target for retaliatory attacks.
On Friday last week, the Maka Al-Mukarramah Hotel in Mogadishu came under terrorist attack that claimed 10 lives, including that of Yusuf Bari Bari, who was Somalia’s ambassador to Switzerland. In the face of this brazen attack in Somalia, the Government must take the warning of imminent attacks on the country seriously and institute measures to forestall an attack. It has become routine to hear the Interior Cabinet Secretary and the Inspector General of Police assure Kenyans of improved security after an incident, with no arrests to prove the security forces are up to the task. But even as we are warned of the possibility of an attack, the continued issuing of travel advisories against Kenya is dishonest to the extent that the country is no longer under constant attacks from Al-Shabaab. Terrorism is a global phenomenon not unique to Kenya.
Travel advisories are impacting negatively on our economy through loss of jobs and by keeping potential visitors away.See also: I am being fought over NSSF reforms, says Kambi As research by various institutions has proved, there is a correlation between poverty and the upsurge in terrorism, especially in low-income countries where jobless youth are indoctrinated and, because they have a reason to be bitter and nothing to live for, are easily enlisted into terrorist cells.
The United Kingdom should be at the forefront helping Kenya build a stronger economy besides the strong ties in trade and diplomacy. Last week, the UK ambassador intimated that the sharing of intelligence information would see the UK lift the travel bans against the country. It was, therefore, disheartening to hear about the new travel advisories issued on Friday. And Kenya was right to protest this development. It would be foolhardy to imagine that a government would let its citizens wander off into some terror-prone spot. Yet it would be an indication of goodwill were the UK to acknowledge that Kenya is safer today than, say, a year ago.