Kenya warns UN on Somali flights abuse amid diplomatic tiffWednesday June 02 2021
Kenya has warned United Nations officials against the abuse of a limited window for flights between Nairobi and Mogadishu following the closure of the airspace as a result of strained diplomatic relations.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it has noticed the misuse of humanitarian flights for bilateral and political matters contrary to a directive and public notice to missions operating in Somalia from Kenya.
Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) through a notice to airmen (Notam) banned all flights to or from Mogadishu on May 11 with an exception for those operating humanitarian activities.
“The ministry reiterates that humanitarian flights must strictly be used for humanitarian purposes to avoid a possible declaration by the Government of Kenya of a full lock-down on all flights,” said the ministry in a letter dated May 27.
This latest announcement indicates that Kenya and Somalia have a long way in normalising their diplomatic ties.
Somalia announced last month that bilateral ties with Kenya had been restored, citing “the interests of good neighbourliness” as a basis for its decision.
Nairobi said it took note of the statement and was looking forward to normalisation of relations by the Somali authorities”.
Somalia had cut ties with Kenya in December 2020 and ordered its ambassador, Mohamed Nur Tarsan, to return home and Kenya’s Lucas Tumbo back to Nairobi.
Mogadishu accused Nairobi of political interference, claims Kenya denied.
This was after Nairobi hosted the political leadership of Somaliland, a breakaway state not recognised by Somalia’s central government.
Somalia’s partners and the African Union had warned that cutting ties could jeopardise focus on counter-terrorism measures.
Somalia and Kenya have an ongoing maritime case at the International Court of Justice, and the dispute had helped foment tensions under President Mohamed Farmaajo’s tenure.