Be alert as Ethiopia, Sudan conflicts escalate

Sudan protests

Sudanese anti-coup protesters block a street in the Red Sea city of Port Sudan on October 30, 2021, during a protest to express their support for the country's democratic transition which a military takeover and deadly crackdown derailed. 

Photo credit: Ibrahim Ishaq | AFP

Sowing misery into the lives of many, destroying livelihoods and creating hopelessness, civil wars are known to fashion dynamics that affect neighbouring countries.

They create an increased threat of violence through a spillover of conflict with countries such as Uganda and Sudan having experienced this.

As a country whose neighbours appear to be on the verge of war, Kenya is not at peace; a crisis in one country is an indicator that it might occur in another. We must, therefore, stay vigilant as a people; cooperate with our security apparatus by reporting any suspicious happenings or people.

Kenya’s immediate neighbours Ethiopia and Sudan have conflicts which should concern us. A state of emergency has been declared in Ethiopia, whose government is fighting rebels. Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) have reportedly seized two crucial towns in an apparent push toward the capital Addis Ababa. The war in Tigray has spilled out to other regions in the country with the rebels indicating that they would march on the capital.

The restive country is engulfed in tension as Ethiopians seek escape routes, especially into or through Kenya. The situation is grim and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has declared he will bury his foes “with our blood”.

The war began a year ago with thousands of people reportedly killed and over two million displaced from their homes. More than 400,000 people in Tigray face famine.

To the northwest of Kenya and bordering Ethiopia to the west, Sudan is also under siege. The country recently suffered a second coup in as many years. Ousted Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is under house arrest.

The coup, led by the military chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, effectively derailed transition to civilian rule and led to an aid freeze by Western donors. The long-serving dictator, President Omar al-Bashir, had earlier been deposed by the military, which said it was committed to a democratic transition.

Even as power dynamics play out, claims of graft in the military and kleptocracy emanating from the Bashir era are still a thorny affair, complicating the political crisis.

Being surrounded by countries with such fluid political situations, including the unending turmoil in Somalia, demands that Kenya stays alert to avoid an intrusion of conflict. The danger of lurking terrorists taking advantage of the situation is real. To avoid a wave of violence oscillating across the region, Kenyans must remain vigilant.

Recently, 12 Somali nationals were arrested in Kenya while heading to an unknown destination from Tana River County.

We need to heed Police Spokesperson Bruno Shioso, who has urged Kenyans to exercise vigilance and be cautious of their surroundings, reporting any suspicious foreigner or activity.

But it is reassuring that Mr Shioso said the government has heightened security and vigilance along the borders and at critical installations because any security lapse will put citizens in danger and compromise the forthcoming General Election.

Selina Chiteri, Nairobi