Mandera County, Kenya –
The situation in Kenya’s Mandera County, bordering Somalia, appears dire for non-locals who have come to the area for work. Insecurity caused by increased al-Shabaab attacks has led to fear and difficulties in travel, leaving teachers, doctors, nurses, electricians, and construction workers stranded in the county. The cost of living and hike in transport fees have added to their challenges, making it even harder for them to return to their respective home counties.
The non-local community in Mandera has formed an association called “The seventh community in Mandera” to address their concerns collectively. They have threatened to protest if the government fails to address their issues adequately. The chairman of the non-local committee, David Kirimi, has urged the government to take urgent action by opening all closed roads and ensuring the safety of the non-local community for travel in and out of the county.
The demands of the non-local community include reopening the Mandera-Moyale route for buses, increased police escorts, and reduced plane ticket prices. Those have hiked considerably, in some cases almost tripled the usual price. These measures are crucial for ensuring their safety and freedom of movement, allowing them to reconnect with their families and improve their overall living conditions.
Mandera county commissioner Amos Mariba has stated that they have established arrangements to provide security for non-locals travelling back to their respective counties. However, his appeal to airlines to reduce their fares seems to be slightly naive, as Kenya has a market economy. “Even though the air transport agencies are commercial, we still advise them to consider all classes of people and reconsider their prices,” the commissioner told the Star.
“60% of Mandera has al-Shabaab presence”
The non-locals decry comes shortly after Mandera governor, Mohamed Adan Khalif, shockingly revealed that 60% of his county has al-Shabaab’s presence. He made the remarks when speaking to the media during a security conference on tackling al-Shabaab in Wajir County.
“I can confirm that in our counties, a huge chunk of the area is now being partially controlled by al-Shabaab. … Al-Shabaab presence and sightings are more than 60% of the Mandera County,” said Mr Mohamed, adding that the county administration is unable to provide services and is only confined at the county headquarters.
The Wajir event has been convened in response to the increased activities of the terrorist group al-Shabaab, which has been targeting both civilians and security personnel in the affected counties. The heightened attacks pose a significant security threat in the region, prompting relevant authorities to gather and discuss potential strategies and responses.