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Kenya and Somalia bury hatchet, reopen border closed due to al-Shabaab

Discussions are underway to reopen three border posts between Kenya and Somalia that have been closed since 2011 due to the threat of terrorism.

The first meeting is scheduled for today in Nairobi.

Cabinet Secretary for Home and National Administration Kithure Kindiki said the talks were aimed at resuming trade and facilitating the movement of people between the two nations.

“We will have important engagements with the Somali delegation on Monday morning with a view to reopening the three border points between the two countries,” he said.

Monday’s meeting follows a high-level ministerial meeting between Kenya and Somalia on cross-border cooperation.

The two ministers are expected to sign key agreements resulting from the bilateral talks and announce significant developments in cooperation between the two countries.

The ministerial meeting will discuss a roadmap for the re-opening of the three border points, to strengthen cross-border cooperation, contribute to regional integration and promoting sustainable development.

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These border points – Mandera/Belet Hawo (Belethawa), Liboi-Harhar/Dhobley and Kiunga/Ras Kamboni – were closed at the height of al Shabaab attacks, hampering cross-border trade and the free movement of people and goods.

At a recent launch of the Kenya-Somalia-Ethiopia Borderlands Security Project, Kindiki emphasised the need for renewed partnerships.

“The programmes we implement as governments must be alive to the complex security challenges we face as a region today. We must all walk together, hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder, to deliver for our people in the region,” he said.

However, the implementation of the security project will be subject to consultation and consensus with Kenya’s neighbours, Somalia and Ethiopia.

Kindiki explained: “It has been agreed that this project will proceed subject to the three partner states, Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, sitting down together with the UK to agree on the action plan and the detailed activities.”

The closure of these official entry points has led to the illegal flow of people, weapons and contraband across the borders.

Reopening them is intended not only to boost trade but also to manage these security concerns better. Today’s talks are an important step towards a safer and more prosperous region.

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