Kenya on Monday called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and swift return to normalcy in Somalia, as fighting raged on between the Somali National Army (SNA) and the Jubaland regional state’s forces.
The Kenyan foreign ministry, which expressed concern over the renewed fighting in the border town of Beled Hawo in the northern part of Gedo region, in southern Somalia, said it has sent a diplomatic note to the chairperson of the African Union Commission, calling for restraint.
“In the note, Kenya called for immediate cessation of the hostilities and a rapid return to normalcy, consistent with the AU’s calls and inspirations of ‘Silencing the Guns in Africa by 2020’ efforts,” the ministry said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
The town of Beled Hawo is a few kilometers from the Kenya-Somalia border.
The fighting, which has been going on intermittently over several months since the beginning of 2020, involved the SNA against regional forces from Somalia’s Jubaland State.
Kenya said its main concern is that the renewed fighting causes large-scale displacement of civilians inside Somalia and drives large numbers of refugees and asylum-seekers into Kenya, worsening the already dire humanitarian situation in Somalia and in refugee camps in Kenya.
“Kenya is concerned that if the fighting continues unabated, the situation could further destabilize the region, complicate the security situation and reverse gains made in the fight against terrorism,” the statement said.
The Somali government and Jubaland regional state have had a running dispute over the Gedo region, and Mogadishu has accused Kenya of backing the regional state.