Uhuru announces direct flights to Mogadishu

Friday March 24 2017
farmaajo state house

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Somalia counterpart President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo at State House Nairobi on March 24. PHOTO| SAMUEL MIRING’U

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced the resumption of direct flights between Nairobi and Mogadishu.
The flights are scheduled to start in two weeks time.

President Uhuru made the announcement on March 23 at State House in Nairobi, where he held bilateral talks with visiting Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo.

READ: Somalia President gets full honours on first state visit to Kenya

“I have directed the security teams from both countries to meet immediately and agree on the modalities of relaunching direct flights between Nairobi and Mogadishu," said President Kenyatta.

The flights were stopped at the height of counter-insurgency measures to prevent the infiltration of members of the Al-Shabaab terrorist group who operate from Somalia.
President Kenyatta also ordered the opening up of two border posts to allow the movement of people and goods between the two countries.

“In particular, we agreed the following actions: Within the shortest time possible, open two border posts at Dobley-Libol and Mandera -Bulahawa, and to facilitate the movement of people, goods and services," said the president.


President Kenyatta also said that Kenya will train 500 Somali personnel as part of a wider campaign to enable the country to stand on its feet after close to three decades of turmoil. The contingent will comprise 200 teachers, 200 nurses and 100 administrators.

Amid growing calls locally to withdraw Kenya’s soldiers from Somalia, where many of them have died, the president said that he was working on a plan for a gradual reduction in troops starting next year.
“One immediate way in which we an do that is to scale up the efforts to strengthen the forces already in Somalia, as well as Somalia’s national security apparatus, so that we are all ready for the day when foreign support leaves the country,” he said.

Kenya contributes more than 3,500 troops to the Africa Union Mission in Somalia which is helping to tackle Al Shabaab.

The Somalia president expressed his appreciation for Kenya’s “sacrifices on many fronts," and pledged a closer working relationship with the country.

“Part of this will be to remove barriers to trade and enhance security in East Africa," said President Farmaajo.

The two leaders are attending a special Heads of State summit of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on March 24, which is discussing durable solutions to the Somali refugee crisis.

READ: Special Igad Summit to discuss Somalia refugee crisis