World Bulletin / News Desk
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, are needed to help Kenyan security forces on the ground patrol the country's frontiers, said Patrick Ochieng.
Kenya is preparing to employ drones as part of increased security operations along its borders with Somalia and Ethiopia to monitor and halt the movements of al-Shabaab, security officials told Sabahi web site, is sponsored by the United States Africa Command.
Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, are needed to help Kenyan security forces on the ground patrol the country's frontiers, said Patrick Ochieng, director of the Kenya National Focal Point on Small Arms and Light Weapons.
"We face an unprecedented security challenge," he told Sabahi. "Not only do we have threats from within the country, but also from al-Shabaab insurgents."
Gunrunning and infiltration by al-Shabaab into Kenya's north-eastern region have brought insecurity with deadly effects, he said, adding that the past two years have seen an increase in violence from illegal guns, with criminals and gunrunners devising new ways to smuggle in firearms.
The unarmed drones will be equipped with state-of the-art technology including night-vision cameras to help Kenya stay ahead of criminals and evolving security threats, Ochieng said.
Security officers are receiving training on working with the drones, which will be operational by the end of the year, Ochieng said. He declined to reveal more details about the programme, saying that doing so could aid gunrunners.
Policing Kenya's porous, more than 800-kilometre border with Somalia is a difficult challenge, said north-eastern regional Police Chief Charlton Mureithi, and deploying drones will aid officers on the ground.
"We hope this technology will go a long way in addressing security threats in the region because the drones will keep an eye on the most remote routes the smugglers use," he told Sabahi.
The government unveiled its national budget for 2013-2014 on June 13th, setting aside 67 billion shillings ($784 million) for security.
National Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich said 4 billion shillings ($46.9 million) of the allocated money will go towards security equipment, 4.5 billion shillings ($52.7 million) for enhanced operations, and 1.5 billion shillings ($17.6 million) for research into improving crime-prevention methods.