MALITI: Isn’t it time for new approach in war on terror?
For the past 25 years Eastleigh has been at the centre of the government mixing criminal investigations with the Somali refugee crisis.
The government script has been the same since 1989. A swoop is ordered whenever there is a national crisis whose origins are believed to be found in Eastleigh.
In 1989, the reason was the government of Mohamed Siad Barre in Somalia was unravelling and Nairobi was suspicious of the Somalis seeking sanctuary here.
So hundreds of Somalis and Kenyan Somalis were picked up and locked up in police cells to await screening to separate citizens from illegal immigrants.
This was two years before the Dadaab refugee camp was opened in 1991.
Since then swoops have been ordered on the pretext of weeding out suspected pirates, terrorists, human and arms traffickers among others.
They have also been ordered whenever fighting has intensified in Somalia and more Somalis come seeking refuge in Kenya.
The result of these swoops has been that those who can, pay the police a release fee to avoid further inconvenience.
Those who cannot pay bribes suffer beatings, days in police cells, a possible court appearance or dispatch to the refugee complex in Dadaab.
Three presidents later, the government is still doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
It is time for a rethink. Somalia is unlikely to be stable any time soon. The African Union’s peacekeeping force has been there since 2007 but the desired stability still eludes Somalia.
Here’s a different approach: let us give the Somali refugees currently in Kenya citizenship. This way we separate the refugee/immigrant question from criminal matters.