Kenya on Monday evening suspended all flights to and from Somalia in a surprising latest move that shows all is not well between the two neighboring countries.
In a notice, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) said no flights shall be allowed to operate between the two countries. Only humanitarian and medical evaluation flights will be allowed to operate between Kenya and Somalia, the flight regulator said.
The Authority did not explain further as to why they came up with such a decision but said there had been a security directive from the government to restrict air traffic between the two countries. The decision means chattered flights and cargo flights shall cease to operate between the two countries for the next three months.
The announcement came just a week after Kenya and Somalia announced peace agreement and that relations between the two countries has improved. This also comes as Somalia President Mohammed Farmajo was passing through the skies of Kenya on his way to Uganda to attend the inauguration ceremony of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni set for Wednesday May 12, 2021.
This is not the first time flights have been suspended between the two countries. During former President Moi’s era flight was suspended to and from Mogadishu and all Somalia borders blocked. In 2019, all flights from Mogadishu to Kenya was forced to first land in Wajir for security check before proceeding to any other airport in Kenya. A few months later Somalia banned all flights to Somalia from Kenya carrying Miraa and restricted other flights to land in Mogadishu before proceeding to any other airport.
Last week on Thursday Somalia announced it has restored its diplomatic relations with Kenya, following talks between leaders of the neighboring countries mediated by Qatar.
During a press conference in Mogadishu, Somalia’s Deputy Information Minister Abdirahman Yusuf Al-Adala made the announcement, saying that Somalia was resuming ties with Nairobi it severed last year.
Although Al-Adala did not provide details about how the talks were initiated between the leaders of the two countries, but he said they came about in large part through the efforts of Qatar’s ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
The two countries are also feuding over a maritime boundary. The dispute is before the International Court of Justice.
This is a big blow to Miraa farmers who rely on Somalia to sell their farm products.