Somalis issue conditions for wall project

KDF personnel inspect the ongoing fencing on the Kenya-Somalia border in Mandera County. PHOTO | MANASE OTSIALO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Somali families, who have settled in Kenya have two options, according to an agreement between the two governments.
  • Mr Shisia said the project is meant to prevent terrorists from crossing over the border.

Somalis living on the Kenya-Somalia border want the government to meet their demands before a security wall is built.

Their demands include compensation for property that will be demolished on their land where the wall will pass.

They further demand that they be given space to put up their own fences and also an assurance that they will be accepted in Somalia if they relocate.

“We cannot just move because we have been living here for many years and getting another home or land inside Somalia will be difficult unless the Kenyan government mediates for us to be accepted,” said Mohamud Mohamed Aden, a Somali national living on border.


Mr Aden’s homestead has been marked for demolition.

Mandera County Commissioner Fredrick Shisia said Somalia has made proposals on how to handle the issue.

“There are proposals given to us by Jubaland officials, including profiling the affected families and taking stock of all structures in Kenya and along the border. But this is just an agreement in principal,” Mr Shisia told the Nation.

Mr Shisia revealed that Somali families who have settled in Kenya have two options, according to the government-to-government agreement.

“They have to relocate to Somalia, where they will be given land to settle, and Kenya will provide 50 per cent of the total construction cost of their new homes,” he said.


Mr Aden, however, said Somalis who have been living on the Kenyan side do not want to return to their homeland.

“We are being vetted, but we ask that those on the Kenyan side be registered as Kenyan citizens and be issued with identity cards before the project proceeds,” he said.

But Mr Shisia said Somali nationals who opt to stay in Kenya can apply for refugee status.

There is fear among the business community near the border that the wall will affect their trade as there would be no free movement of goods.

But Mr Shisia said the project is meant to prevent terrorists from crossing over the border and not hinder business activities.


Mr Shisia said the project has started, with contractors building patrol roads along the 280-kilometre stretch from Border Point 1 in Mandera East to Kotulo in Mandera South.

The project, initiated by the Ministry of Interior in 2015, envisioned the construction of a concrete wall but this has since been changed to fencing with barbed wire and concrete poles.

Mr Shisia said the changes were meant to reduce cost.

The government is also working hard to convince pastoralists that the project is not meant to divide grazing fields.

Communities on both sides of the border have claimed that the fencing will block free movement of pastoralists.

Mr Shisia said the pastoralists will have wide entry and exit points on the fence once its completed.