Kenya, US clash on calls to apply brakes on Somalia aid

Tuesday, October 8th, 2019 00:00 |
National Assembly committee on National Security chair Paul Koinange with US envoy Kyle McCarter, vice-chair of the committee John Waluke, US Congressman Robert Pittenge and Speaker Justin Muturi during a security forum in Nairobi, yesterday. Photo/PD/SAMUEL KARIUKI

The United States will not stop humanitarian assistance to Somalia as doing so would affect millions of people facing financial and material needs.

Kenya has been calling on the United Nations to put al Shabaab under the same category as Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

But US ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter said yesterday his country had already applied resolution 751 to place al Shabaab as a terror group.

Affect citizens

McCarter said his country will not stop Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from supporting Somalia as this would affect drought-stricken citizens.

“We have already placed al Shabaab as a terror group and I can assure you that what follows after that will suppress the group more than denying Mogadishu financial and material aid,” he said in response to National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi’s calls for the US to stop aiding Somalia as the funds ended up in the hands of the militia group.

Speaking when he officially opened Parliamentary Intelligence Security Forum at the KICC, Muturi regretted that most of the humanitarian assistance to Somalia ended up in the hands of the militia group.

“We need to relook how we channel aid be it financially or materially to Somalia because it might be going to the wrong hands,” Muturi said.

Foreign donors have warned that the move to halt assistance to Somalia could leave millions in drought-stricken Somalia without aid.

Al Shabaab is already targeted under broader sanctions imposed by the United Nations on Somalia, which is heavily aid-dependent after three decades of conflict and economic ruin.

UN agencies and humanitarian organisations are exempt from these sanctions, which enables them to deliver urgent aid without prosecution when they venture into territory controlled by al Shabaab.

But Kenya wants to tighten the screws on the jihadist group after several deadly attacks on its soil, and the sanctions regime it proposes would remove that safeguard.

Kenya’s Committee on Administration and National Security chairman Paul Koinange who is the host, said the forum has been organised to inform MPs the importance of intelligence processing in order to assist the Executive in the fight against terrorism, money laundering, corruption and other organized crime.

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