afrol News, 24 September - A mobile border control unit is now to intensify Kenya's control with the porous Somali border. Hundreds cross the border uncontrolled every day, some of which are militants or victims of human smuggling.
This week, the Kenyan Ministry for Immigration and Registration of Persons was handed over a mobile border control unit. The mobile unit is to be stationed at the Kenyan-Somali border; the main exit for the many Somalis fleeing their country, but also for Islamist militants threatening to destabilise the East African region.
The core element of the unit is a fully equipped office container, mounted on a 6x4 truck and fitted out with HF/VHF radios, forensic document examination equipment, a mobile workstation for registering persons and vehicles, as well as a generator for providing auxiliary power supply while operating in remote areas.
Kenyan Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang at the handover ceremony said it was essential for the Ministry to become able to controlling and ensuring the orderly movement of persons along the long and remote Somali border.
"Garissa and Isiolo are some of our most difficult borders to manage due to the deteriorating security situation in Somalia, with high numbers of people crossing the borders - mainly uncontrolled - every day," Minister Kajwang admitted.
It was therefore important for the Kenyan government "to know who is moving across our borders in a timely manner and this border control unit will facilitate our mobility and presence in these difficult areas," he added.
The mobile unit was donated by the International Organisation of Migration (IOM). IOM representative Ashraf El Nour emphasised his support to the ministry. "Movement of people is fluid and this border control unit can now enable immigration officials to go where needed. It is a major milestone in the ministry's effort towards effective border management for Kenya."
IOM last year had mapped human smuggling in the East African region, identifying Kenya as a country of transit for numerous people smuggled across the borders on their way from East Africa and the Horn of Africa towards South Africa.
In 2008, the IOM study estimated that up to 1,600 men were smuggled on a monthly basis from Ethiopia and Somalia through Kenya on their way south, with many more trying to cross the borders irregularly by their own means.
Migration management has become a key concern for East African Community (EAC) countries. The problem has been accentuated by the growth of Islamist fundamentalism and terror in Somalia, which has led to a higher terror alert in the entire EAC region.
Controlling the Somali border has been defined as a key factor in preventing terrorism in East Africa by EAC state leaders.
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