Lamu, KENYA: Lamu county commissioner Joseph Kanyiri has said the underdevelopment of the county has made it easy for Alshabaab returnees to hide from the police.
Kanyiri also expressed concern that radicalization among the Lamu youth was still a huge challenge and a problem too.
Speaking in his office on Monday, Kanyiri also noted that apart from Lamu, many other extremists hiding in the county come from Mombasa,Kwale,Kilifi znd also from foreign nations like Tanzania,Rwanda and Uganda.
He said the biggest challenge with Lamu was that it’s a transit point that allows extremists’ access to Somalia.
The county commissioner said the major hot spots where returnees and other extremists seem to to dwell in Lamu, are in places like Kiwayu,Mabole,Minjila Witu towns among others.
He says lack of cooperation between security agencies and locals is a major challenge in the war against radicalization and is also hindering efforts to enlist Al-Shabaab returnees in Lamu.
“Its important that the people of Lamu shun denial about this problem and be actively involved in seeking. This is something we must face head on and work together to curb it and minimize its effects on the people of Lamu and her economy,”said Kanyiri.
The commissioner reiterated that security agencies present in Lamu are meant to safeguard lives and property and to ensure peace.
He also urged schools to teach kids about patriotism and the need to find peaceful ways to resolve conflicts.
“We must work to give hope to the youth,providing them with education and skill development opportunities in fields that are relevant to the economy of Lamu,”he said.
He said there was need to apply local interventions suited to the conditions of Lamu in order to defeat radicalization.
“This is a shared problem that requires us to harness a shared commitment to counter violent extremism,” he added.
Kanyiri urged families of returnees to surrender them to the authorities for rehabilitation and amnesty so that they become fully integrated back into the society and no longer have to hide.
He said hiding the returnees makes the police suspicious that they are up to some dangerous plans and that as such police will be prompted to treat them as security hazards proven without doubt that they have quit and are ready for rehab.