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Cablegate: Kenya Will Allow Somalia Flights, but Via Wajir Only

VZCZCXYZ0004
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHNR #3100 2111103
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 301103Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1411
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RULSDMK/DOT WASHDC
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHDC

UNCLAS NAIROBI 003100

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR AF/E, AF/RSA, AND AF/EPS
DEPT FOR SCT PHIPPS
DEPT ALSO PASS TO DOT FOR CONNIE HUNTER

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAIR PTER KCRM ECON ETRD KE
SUBJECT: Kenya Will Allow Somalia Flights, But Via Wajir Only

REF: 2006 NAIROBI 4871

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

1. (SBU) Summary: The Government of Kenya (GOK) announced that,
effective August 1, it would end its suspension of flights to/from
Somalia, but that all flights from Somalia must stop first at Wajir
Airport for immigration, customs and security processing before
proceeding to their final Kenyan destination. Outgoing flights,
including those carrying miraa (or quat, a mild narcotic), may fly
directly to Somalia from any place in Kenya, after clearance.
Clearing incoming flights at Wajir could improve security, but it
depends on the quality and reliability of the clearance process.
End summary.

GOK Suspended Somalia Flights in November 2006
--------------------------------------------- -

2. (U) Following the GOK's November 2006 decision to suspend direct
scheduled flights from Somalia due to concerns about the potential
threat from elements aligned with the Islamic Courts, the GOK faced
strong pressure from politically well-connected miraa growers to
resume cargo flights to Somalia. However, the cargo planes' use of
Nairobi's Wilson airport was at odds with the Kenya Civil Aviation
Administration's (KCAA) efforts to improve security at Wilson. The
Eastleigh neighborhood of Nairobi, which is predominantly populated
by "Somalia Somalis" rather than Kenyan ethnic Somalis, is located
near Wilson Airport. The GOK therefore decided to process Somalia
flights at another airport.

Where's Wajir?
--------------

3. (SBU) The GOK selected Wajir, a 2.8 kilometer long concrete
airstrip on a military base in ethnic Somali-populated Northeastern
Province, near the Somali border, with no terminal or air traffic
control (ATC) facilities. In an unusually fast process, the GOK
hired a contractor to build a terminal and assigned KCAA,
Immigration, Customs, and security officers to work there. There is
no computer terminal in Wajir for accessing the watch list, so the
officers will have to rely on hard copy intelligence lists.

Wajir Scheduled to Open August 1
--------------------------------

4. (U) On July 24, KCAA announced that Wajir Airport would open on
August 1, and that all cargo and passenger flights coming from
Somalia would be required to land at Wajir for security, immigration
and customs clearance before proceeding to their final destinations
in Kenya. Exceptions, presumably for international aid
organizations and the UN, must be authorized by the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs. The KCAA notice specified that cargo flights,
including those carrying miraa (quat), may not carry passengers, and
any flight carrying "unauthorized passengers" will be required to
carry them back to Somalia. Passenger and cargo flights, including
miraa, can fly directly to Somalia from any place in Kenya, once
they are cleared.

5. (U) The KCAA notice also stated that airlines can use Wajir for
all other domestic and foreign service. A new domestic carrier,
Flight 540, plans to begin service to Wajir at some point in the
future. However, the sparse population and the weak economy of the
region limit the potential client base.

6. (SBU) Comment: The GOK has repeatedly postponed the Wajir opening
date, and may do so again. Clearing flights from Somalia at Wajir
could reduce the security risk at Nairobi's Wilson Airport.
However, we have some concerns about the quality and reliability of
Wajir's clearance process, plus the possibility of a malefactor
taking advantage of the closeness to the border and the emptiness of
the area to gain access to an aircraft cleared for Nairobi.

RANNEBERGER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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