Rob MacaireHigh Commissioner to Kenya, Nairobi
I spend quite a lot of my time wrestling with the problems of Somalia, so I found it instructive to go up to the Kenya-Somali border last week on a visit to NE Province, and hear from some of the people who are affected by cross-border movements. One aspect of this is the huge and growing refugee population Kenya is hosting (donor governments and the UN High Commission for Refugees are in discussion with the Government about how to provide decent facilities for refugees, taking account of the impact on local populations too.See the editorial in today's Standard. Another is the economic impact of money and people moving across that border, something that seems to cause concern to many people here in Nairobi and at the Coast. And the third, which particularly affects Kenya's international partners like the UK, is the security angle: the flows of small arms, illegal or 'grey' money, drugs, contraband, and people-smuggling or people-trafficking rings.
We're engaged with the Kenyan authorities on most of these problems. Our law enforcement teams work together on drugs and serious crime. We have been working with Kenyan fingerprinting experts to help increase the capability to combat 'nationality swapping' where people change their ID papers to claim the nationality that best suits them (a problem affecting the UK as well as East African countries). The UK Borders Agency coordinates with other governments, international organisations, airlines, and others to combat illegal migration as well as facilitating legal migration. And we're supporting some projects to help Kenyan authorities control that remote, 700km, porous border that I saw last week. But a lot more needs to be done. I'm puzzled, for example, why the Parliament has yet to pass robust Money Laundering legislation, given the general concern felt in the country about drugs money and piracy ransoms flowing into Kenya. Any comments from readers on this? Perhaps something for Kenya's excellent investigative journalists to take an interest in?
On a more positive note, I was extremely impressed by what I saw in Garissa District of the work to support orphans and vulnerable children through a social safety net system that DFID is assisting with. The local Childrens' Officers are professional and effective, and local schools and remote communities have been really transformed by this pilot project. See my recent comments on the similar work in Turkana. I hope the Government can build its Social Protection strategy to incorporate and extend this excellent work.