August 24, 2015
by Margaret Williams
Republished from: IPI Global Observatory
Neglecting the needs of Somali communities in the northeast of Kenya leaves room for extremist groups such as al-Shabaab to radicalize them, said Moses Onyango, Director of the Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the United States International University—Africa.
“If you look at the issue of radicalization, there are many factors that are involved, but basically the main factor that you find in the Kenyan situation is the issue of marginalization,” said Mr. Onyango, also a Fellow of the African Leadership Centre, Kings College London.
“We are looking at northeastern Kenya, which is mainly inhabited by the Kenyan-Somalis and has been neglected for many years in terms of development … the response has been that most of these extremist groups have looked at that particular gap and identified it, and have infiltrated the Kenyan communities in terms of offering development where the state has failed.”
Speaking with International Peace Institute Policy Analyst Margaret Williams, he said the Kenyan government had responded in three main ways to the recent spate of terrorist attacks in the country.
At the municipal level, the government has profiled the Kenyan Somalis in Nairobi, and arrested them, and some of them have been deported back to Somalia. At the international level, the government has initiated construction of a wall between the border of Kenya and Somalia. And most recently, the government has also given a softer approach of offering amnesty to some of the Kenyans,” Mr. Onyango said.
He said the effects of these tactics had often been to increase marginalization, and offered support for alternative strategies such as increasing youth employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.