Monday, 24 October 2011


Bit of disturbing news coming down the pipe.

If you haven't heard, there were a few aid-workers kidnapped near the Somalian border just over a week ago.  This is an area that is ravaged by drought and famine at this particular time, and while it has been called the 'Crisis in the Horn of Africa', the Somali-Kenyan border is probably where the major issues are - the environmental catastrophe meets human suffering, with not only issues of drought and famine, but also huge numbers of refugees and major health issues including cholera outbreaks, etc. It is a major humanitarian crisis, now exacerbated by the kidnapping of aid-workers.

Apparently, the terrorist group Al-Shabaab has been blamed for the kidnappings, although I am not aware of this being confirmed.  Regardless, the Kenyan response was unequivocal.  Almost immediately after the Kenyan Army moved into Somalia, Al-Shabaab threatened retaliation for Kenya's military action.

From the sounds coming out of the media today, it looks like Al-Shabaab has started to retaliate, attacking a nightclub and a bus stop in the same day in Nairobi. Of course, there has been no direct link to Al-Shabaab, so we will have to wait and see how things progress over the next few days.

I had an interesting conversation with my colleagues about the situation - they all tended to support the initiative against Al-Shabaab, which has been a major cause of conflict at the Somali-Kenyan border, and has hindered aid and assistance to the refugees and citizens that are suffering there.  I suppose I cannot fault that logic.  They educated me on the fact that Kenya's army was 'untested', and probably useless.  It seemed that there was the opinion that this was an excuse for the politicians to be involved in some exciting military operation (knowing that next year is an election year).  I did ask them, though, how they thought this campaign, with the possibility of retaliatory attacks, would affect Kenya's tourism industry, which is the second-largest industry in Kenya.  They agreed that it would probably harm the tourism industry, despite what the government said.  However, they pointed out something that I had not ever considered - politicians don't really care about the tourism trade, because the people that suffer, if it decreases, are the common people and not the politicians.  That was a slightly heartbreaking sentiment.

Before you start worrying, I am staying safe and smart.  While the news articles above do not embellish the accounts of the attacks, I hope you remember that I am staying in a suburb of Nairobi, and realistically, would not have known about these attacks if my dad hadn't sent me a link.  The days move forward.  I am, and will be, fine.  My thoughts are with those who are not, and my hopes are pinned on a swift end to this conflict.

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