Citizens React: Should Kenya Defence Forces pull out of Somalia?

Kenyans weigh in on whether their country’s troops should remain in Somalia to combat al-Shabaab fighters.

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Citizens React: Should Kenya Defence Forces pull out of Somalia?

Lydia Matata

A child stands at a memorial for Kenya Defense Forces soldiers killed in January during an attack by al-Shabaab militants in Somalia. The vigil, which was held at Uhuru Park in Nairobi, ended on January 24.

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NAIROBI, KENYA — Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) entered Somalia in October 2011 to root out members of the group al-Shabaab after aid workers and tourists were abducted within Kenya.

Since then, al-Shabaab has carried out more than 100 attacks on Kenyan soil, according to statistics from the Global Terrorism Database. Kenyan troops suffered heavy casualties in January when al-Shabaab launched an attack on one of its bases in Somalia. Officials figures have not been released, but sources, including al-Shabaab, estimated as many as 100 soldiers were killed.  Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said after the attack that the troops will continue fighting armed groups in Somalia. Kenyans in Nairobi, the capital city, express divided opinions on whether the troops should withdraw from Somalia. Here are some of their views:



“The KDF soldiers should pull out of Somalia and defend us from within our borders. If they stay in Somalia they will continue to die.”   — Esther Nasieko, shopkeeper


“The KDF cannot leave Somalia because terrorists will feel emboldened to carry out worse attacks in our country. Terrorists will overrun this country and we will all die. The troops should stay in Somalia and reinforce their intelligence-gathering to be able to pre-empt attacks.”  — Levy Aduma, security guard


“I think our solders should return to Kenya and defend the country from within. Somalia has too many problems. We better let Somalis find the solutions on their own. But if the Kenyan government signed an agreement with Somalia to help eliminate the al-Shabaab, it has to honor the agreement. There is nothing we can do.” — Daniel Ayumi, janitor


“Those soldiers are our heroes. We love them and we need them back in Kenya. They should leave Somalia, because they have been attacked before, and now it has happened again. I would like to know how they live, and what will happen if they continue to stay there.”  — Edith Thenya, resident


“The KDF should stay in Somalia and continue fighting the terrorists. Kenya is at peace right now because the soldiers are protecting us from terror attacks. They are our heroes and we should support them in everything they do.” 

— Lawrence Orero, security guard


Lydia Matata, GPJ, translated the interviews from Kiswahili.