The government is calling on the international community, again, to rally behind efforts to combat terror, in the wake of the kidnapping of two Cuban doctors in Mandera County.
Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau told the Nation on Wednesday that everything will be done to ensure the safe return of the doctors, but challenged the international community not to relent in the war on terror.
“We will have an opportunity to do a complete post-mortem of what happened. But for now, the focus is on getting our people out and returning them to their families,” he said in an interview.
“These are professionals who have served this country with dedication. We are working hard to ensure they are safe.”
On Friday, suspected Al-Shabaab militants abducted Dr Assel Herera Correa (physician) and Dr Landy Rodriguez (surgeon) in Mandera. The attack left one police officer dead.
Kenya said last Friday it would be working with Somali authorities in the rescue mission.
But Mr Kamau would not delve into details of what authorities are doing to free the doctors, but said the incident reminds the world of the daily threat of terror.
“What we have not seen is the full commitment of the international community, through the United Nations, taking its responsibility to stabilising and bringing peace and security to Somalia,” he said, referring to support for the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom).
“The international community must recognise that the challenge we are facing in Somalia is not an east African one, it is a global challenge because the consequences of terrorism are global,” Mr Kamau said.
Kenya has been a part of the Amisom since 2012, having entered Somalia initially in October 2011 to pursue kidnappers, linked to al-Shabaab, who had targeted expatriate humanitarian workers and tourists in north eastern and coastal regions.
The government suspects the Mandera incident was masterminded by Al-Shabaab, keen to exploit weaknesses in the security operations of the country to avenge for loss of territory inside Somalia.
On Wednesday, the Foreign Affairs PS insisted that there are adequate security operations to prevent Al-Shabaab returning to kidnappings on Kenyan soil as it was the case before the Kenya Defence Forces went to Somalia.
But he said there is an urgent need to plug the financing hole to ensure Amisom’s battles against Al-Shabaab as well as programmes to stabilise the Somalia National Army continue.
Amisom has planned to withdraw gradually from Somalia by 2020, in return focusing on strengthening Somali government institutions such as the army (SNA), police, border patrol and intelligence gathering.
But this could cost lots of money.
The European Union, which used to take on most of the budget for Amisom (about Sh20 billion a year), through the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), reduced funding by 20 percent, citing other commitments in the Maghreb.
Currently about 22,000 troops from Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda are deployed in the country under Amisom, whose mandate is provided by the UN Security Council, to fight Al-Shabaab.
But as Amisom is composed of combat troops, rather than peacekeeping forces, the UN has been reluctant to finance its operations, fearing it could create a new precedent and force it to fund all other similar operations in the world.
Currently, the UN recompenses logistical expenditure for the troops, meaning it can pay up for spent equipment but cannot carter for the operational costs of the mission.
Kenya believes Al-Shabaab can get more attention if the UN can list it formally as a terror organisation.