Archive for the ‘Kenya’ Category

CFR Backgrounder: Al-Shabab

March 18, 2015 Comments off

Backgrounder: Al-Shabab
Source: Council on Foreign Relations

Al-Shabab, or “the Youth,” is an al-Qaeda-linked militant group and U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization fighting for the creation of a fundamentalist Islamic state in Somalia. The group, also known as Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahideen, and its Islamist affiliates once held sway over Mogadishu and major portions of the Somali countryside, but a sustained African Union military campaign in recent years has weakened the group considerably. Still, security analysts warn that the group remains the principal threat in a politically volatile, war-torn state.

Al-Shabab’s terrorist activities have mainly focused on targets within Somalia, but it has also carried out deadly strikes in the region, including coordinated suicide bombings in Uganda’s capital in 2010 and a raid on a Nairobi mall in 2013 (PDF). Washington fears the group, which has successfully recruited members of the Somali diaspora in the United States, may strike on U.S. soil. However, many terrorism experts say al-Shabab’s reach is limited to East Africa.

Select Diaspora Populations in the United States

July 24, 2014 Comments off

Select Diaspora Populations in the United States
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Diaspora populations often perform essential functions in the economic and human capital development of their countries of origin, and can continue playing a strong role in shaping these countries long after they or their forebears departed.The Rockefeller Foundation and the Aspen Institute have launched the Rockefeller-Aspen Diaspora Program (RAD), a joint venture to better understand diaspora members’ financial and human capital investments and to design an approach to foster further growth in these areas. The Migration Policy Institute has partnered with RAD to produce profiles of 15 diaspora communities in the United States, which is home to nearly 60 million first- or second-generation immigrants.

These profiles address 15 different diaspora populations in the United States, gathering in one place key data and analysis on diasporas from Bangladesh, Colombia, El Salvador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, India, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Each profile explores the demographic characteristics of first- and second-generation immigrants in a particular diaspora, their educational attainment, household income, employment patterns, geographic distribution, and remittance volume.

Five longer profiles, focusing on Colombia, Egypt, India, Kenya, and the Philippines, also detail historical immigration pathways and contemporary entry trends, poverty status, active diaspora organizations, and country-of-origin policies and institutions related to interaction with emigrants and their descendants abroad.

Neighborhood Danger, Parental Monitoring, Harsh Parenting, and Child Aggression in Nine Countries

January 23, 2014 Comments off

Neighborhood Danger, Parental Monitoring, Harsh Parenting, and Child Aggression in Nine Countries (PDF)
Source: Societies

Exposure to neighborhood danger during childhood has negative effects that permeate multiple dimensions of childhood. The current study examined whether mothers’, fathers’, and children’s perceptions of neighborhood danger are related to child aggression, whether parental monitoring moderates this relation, and whether harsh parenting mediates this relation. Interviews were conducted with a sample of 1293 children (age M = 10.68, SD = 0.66; 51% girls) and their mothers (n = 1282) and fathers (n = 1075) in nine countries (China, Colombia, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, the Philippines, Sweden, Thailand, and the United States). Perceptions of greater neighborhood danger were associated with more child aggression in all nine countries according to mothers’ and fathers’ reports and in five of the nine countries according to children’s reports. Parental monitoring did not moderate the relation between perception of neighborhood danger and child aggression. The mediating role of harsh parenting was inconsistent across countries and reporters. Implications for further research are discussed, and include examination of more specific aspects of parental monitoring as well as more objective measures of neighborhood danger.

Pathways to Productivity: The Role of GMOs for Food Security in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda

October 30, 2013 Comments off

Pathways to Productivity: The Role of GMOs for Food Security in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda
Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

This report provides an overview of the debate in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda over genetically modified (GM) crops and their potential role in improving food security among smallholder farmers. Specifically, in each country, it examines regulatory structures, science and research capacity, communication and public opinion, the views of smallholder farmers, and the forecast for adoption of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Additionally, it examines regional regulatory efforts and potential trade impacts. Finally, the report provides a set of policy recommendations targeted toward the U.S. government, focus country governments, the donor community, and nongovernmental organizations.

International Journal of Global Warming — Special Issue on Loss and Damage from Climate Change

October 25, 2013 Comments off

Special Issue on Loss and Damage from Climate Change
Source: International Journal of Global Warming
From press release (EurekAlert!):

An open access special issue of the International Journal of Global Warming brings together, for the first time, empirical evidence of loss and damage from the perspective of affected people in nine vulnerable countries. The articles in this special issue show how climatic stressors affect communities, what measures households take to prevent loss and damage, and what the consequences are when they are unable to adjust sufficiently. The guest-editors, Kees van der Geest and Koko Warner of the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) in Bonn, Germany, introduce the special issue with an overview of key findings from the nine research papers, all of which are available online free of charge.

‘Loss and damage’ refers to adverse effects of climate variability and climate change that occur despite mitigation and adaptation efforts. Warner and van der Geest discuss the loss and damage incurred by people at the local-level based on evidence from research teams working in nine vulnerable countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Kenya, Micronesia, Mozambique and Nepal. The research papers pool data from 3269 household surveys and more than 200 focus groups and expert interviews.

The research reveals four loss and damage pathways. Residual impacts of climate stressors occur when:

  • existing coping/adaptation to biophysical impact is not enough;
  • measures have costs (including non-economic) that cannot be regained;
  • despite short-term merits, measures have negative effects in the longer term; or
  • no measures are adopted – or possible – at all.

The articles in this special issue provide evidence that loss and damage happens simultaneously with efforts by people to adjust to climatic stressors. The evidence illustrates loss and damage around barriers and limits to adaptation: growing food and livelihood insecurity, unreliable water supplies, deteriorating human welfare and increasing manifestation of erosive coping measures (e.g. eating less, distress sale of productive assets to buy food, reducing the years of schooling for children, etc.). These negative impacts touch upon people’s welfare and health, social cohesion, culture and identity – values that contribute to the functioning of society but which elude monetary valuation.

CRS — In Brief: The September 2013 Terrorist Attack in Kenya

October 1, 2013 Comments off

In Brief: The September 2013 Terrorist Attack in Kenya (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

On September 21, 2013, masked gunmen attacked the upscale Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, taking hostages and killing more than 60 people.

Almost 200 people, including at least 5 U.S. citizens, were wounded in the siege, which lasted four days. The attack is the most deadly terrorist incident in Kenya since the 1998 Al Qaeda bombing of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi.

A Somali Islamist insurgent group, Al Shabaab, which has ties to Al Qaeda, has claimed responsibility for the Westgate attack.

Al Qaeda and affiliated groups like Al Shabaab have had a presence in East Africa for almost 20 years, although the extent of their operations there has varied over time. The region’s porous borders, proximity to the Arabian Peninsula, weak law enforcement and judicial institutions, and pervasive corruption, combined with almost 20 years of state collapse in neighboring Somalia, have provided an enabling environment for violent extremist groups.

The Westgate mall attack comes almost two years after Kenya launched a military offensive across its northeastern border with Somalia, with the stated aim of defending itself against terrorist threats and incursions by Al Shabaab. Kenya subsequently joined the U.N.-mandated African Union stabilization mission, AMISOM, which is tasked with countering the threat posed by Al Shabaab in Somalia. Al Shabaab’s attack on the mall comes three years after an Al Shabaab cell conducted the group’s first successful attack outside Somalia with deadly bombings in Kampala, Uganda, in retaliation for Uganda’s role as a leading AMISOM troop contributor.

Al Shabaab has repeatedly threatened countries contributing to the regional operation, and spokesmen for the group have cited Kenya’s ongoing military role in Somalia as justification for the Westgate attack.

While Kenyan officials thus far have maintained commitment to AMISOM in the siege’s aftermath, the attack may deter other countries from contributing troops in response to a call from the U.N. envoy for Somalia for more military support to counter Al Shabaab. In the 15 years since the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, Congress has appropriated increasing counterterrorism funding for Africa, and has focused hearings and investigations on reported support provided by U.S. citizens to Al Shabaab. The United States is a major contributor of financial and in-kind support to AMISOM, and has provided its troop contributors and other countries in the region with substantial support to counter terrorist threats. “We are in this fight together,” the U.S. ambassador to Kenya commented as Federal Bureau of Investigation forensic teams deployed after the Westgate attack. President Obama has pledged U.S. support to bring those responsible for the attack to justice.

Political instability and terrorist activities in and emanating from Somalia are subject to ongoing interest by policymakers, who remain concerned about Al Shabaab’s ties to Al Qaeda and affiliated groups and its use of Somalia as a staging ground for attacks in the region and a training ground for foreign fighters. The following sections address possible questions about the attack and related issues for Congress.

CRS — Kenya: Current Issues and U.S. Policy

October 1, 2013 Comments off

Kenya: Current Issues and U.S. Policy (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The U.S. government views Kenya as a strategic partner and anchor state in East Africa, and as critical to counterterrorism efforts in the region. Kenya has repeatedly been a target of terrorist attacks, and, as the September 2013 attack on an upscale Nairobi shopping mall underscores, terrorist threats against international and domestic targets in Kenya remain a serious concern.

Kenya’s military plays a key role in regional operations against Al Shabaab in Somalia. The Al Qaeda-affiliated Somali insurgent group has claimed responsibility for the Westgate Mall attack ostensibly in response to Kenya’s military offensive against the group across the Somali border. The incident is the deadliest terrorist attack in Kenya since the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombing and the group’s first successful large-scale operation in the Kenyan capital.

Kenya ranks among the top U.S. foreign aid recipients in the world, receiving significant development, humanitarian, and security assistance in recent years. The country, which is a top recipient of police and military counterterrorism assistance on the continent, hosts the largest U.S. diplomatic mission in Africa. Nairobi is home to one of four major United Nations offices worldwide.

The election in March 2013 of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Vice President William Ruto complicates the historically strong relationship between Kenya and the United States. Kenyatta, whose victory against former Prime Minister Raila Odinga was deemed credible by most observers, and Ruto face charges before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for their alleged role in crimes against humanity during violence that followed Kenya’s last elections in December 2007.

Ruto’s ICC trial commenced in September 2013; Kenyatta’s begins in November. Their supporters have portrayed the cases as part of an international conspiracy against Kenya, and as emblematic of racial bias on the part of a court that has, to date, exclusively targeted Africans for prosecution. This was a campaign message during the 2013 elections, in which voting largely followed ethnic lines. The September vote by Kenya’s parliament to withdraw from the Rome Statute of the ICC does not affect the current trials and is, for now, largely symbolic.

Kenya’s key aid donors and senior Obama Administration officials have been supportive of the ICC process for the country, viewing impunity for state corruption and political violence as a major challenge that continues to threaten Kenya’s long-term stability. Implications for U.S. relations, assistance, and future cooperation remain unclear, given that the United States is not a state party to the ICC. This may be a key issue for Congress in the coming months, as it weighs various governance, human rights, and security priorities in the country.

The 2007-2008 post-election violence tarnished Kenya’s generally peaceful reputation and had a significant impact on its economy, which is East Africa’s largest and most diverse. More recent developments, including the September 2013 terrorist attack and a fire in August that did extensive damage to Nairobi’s airport, the region’s busiest, may again slow economic growth.

The March elections were the first held under a new constitution, under which major political reforms are proscribed. The Kenyatta government faces high expectations by the electorate to improve the economy and deliver on pledged political and social reforms.