Kenya warns it may ban Somalia humanitarian flights

Kenya has warned that it may impose a total ban on flights from Somalia including those on humanitarian missions.

The foreign affairs ministry said in a letter to diplomatic missions that humanitarian flights were being misused for “bilateral and political matters”.

Kenya recently suspended flights from its neighbour but exempted medical emergency evacuation flights and those on UN humanitarian missions.

But it now warns that “humanitarian flights must strictly be used for humanitarian purposes to avoid a possible declaration by the government of Kenya of a full lockdown on all flights”.

The ministry has also required all humanitarian flights to seek clearance first – and provide a list of passengers as well as the goods to be transported.

Kenya and Somalia have been involved in a long diplomatic row over several issues including a maritime border dispute that has persisted since 2014, when Mogadishu brought a case against Kenya at the International Court of Justice.

Somalia initially severed diplomatic ties with Kenya in December, accusing the East African neighbour of interfering in its domestic political affairs – by backing the administration of the semi-autonomous Jubaland region

On 6 May, it said that diplomatic relations had been restored after mediation by Qatar, though it refused to lift its ban on the importation from Kenya of the narcotic leaf – khat – which was imposed last year.

The following week, Kenya announced the suspension of flights, which it blames on a severance of diplomatic relations.

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