In bid to counter al-Shabab, Kenya tightens noose on aid efforts for Somalis

A member of the Kenya Defense Forces at the airport in Kismayo, Somalia. The city was liberated from al-Shabab by the combined forces of the Kenyan and Somali military in October 2012. Kenya has recently launched a number of initiatives meant to protect the country’s borders against the terrorist group. Photo by: Tobin Jones / AU-UN IST / Albany Associates / CC BY-NC-ND

In just a month, Kenya seemed to have intensified efforts to protect its borders and bolster counterterrorism efforts against al-Shabab. In doing so, however, it has impeded the work of many humanitarian and development organizations delivering aid to thousands of Somalis within and outside Kenya’s borders.

On April 2, gunmen affiliated with al-Shabab attacked Garissa University College in northern Kenya, killing more than 140 students and teachers.

More than a terror assault, Garissa a direct attack on education

By attacking the only institution providing higher education in northern Kenya, al-Shabab affiliates are curtailing opportunities for marginalized youths in the region. Could a set of guidelines to prevent schools from being targets of violence protect young people’s right to education?

Five days after the attack, the Central Bank of Kenya revoked the licenses of 13 money transfer companies in the country as part of government efforts to prevent the financing of terrorism. Four days later, Kenya’s deputy president gave an ultimatum to the United Nations: Move the world’s largest refugee camp back to Somalia over the next three months or the government itself will relocate the hundreds of thousands of Somalis that have called the camp home for decades.

“The way America changed after 9/11 is the way Kenya will change after Garissa,” William Ruto said in a statement distributed by his press office.

This article is for Devex Members

For full access to the content of the article sign in or join Devex.

About the author

  • Flavie portrait

    Flavie Halais

    Flavie Halais is a freelance journalist based in Montreal who covers cities and international social issues. In 2013-2014, Flavie was an Aga Khan Foundation Canada International Fellow, reporting for Nation Media Group in Nairobi, Kenya. She’s also reported from Rwanda, Brazil and Colombia.

Join the Discussion