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Westgate: EU withholds travel advisory on Kenya

Thursday, September 26, 2013

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The European Union will not issue any travel warnings to its citizens wishing to travel to Kenya, an official said Wednesday.

Ten Europeans died in the Westgate mall attack and many more were injured, EU’s managing director for Africa Nicholas Westcott noted.

However, he added, member countries were not going to issue any travel advisory to their citizens wishing to travel to Kenya.

“The advisory will remain as it is. Where they are risks we have to alert our citizens. Yes there are threats, but there should be no significant change in the advisory from what has been there in past,” Mr Westcott said.

The official said Europeans living in Kenya should continue doing so. “Those who want to come should come but they should all take care wherever they are.”

Mr Westcott said it was not clear whether some of the terrorists were European as reported by sections of the media.

“We don’t have any proof of the nationality or identity of the terrorists who were in the mall. It is too early to say,” he told journalists in an interview at the EU offices in Nairobi.

Mr Westcott, who arrived in the country on Tuesday following the Saturday attack, said EU personnel were helping to identify those who died in the mall.

The EU boss said peace would only return in the region when Al-Shabaab were driven away from the whole of Somalia.

“We are working together to kick out Al-Shabaab from areas where they are still in control in Somalia,” he said.

Mr Westcott, from the European External Action Service, said the EU was spending Sh500 million monthly to fund the Kenya Defence Forces operation under the African Union Mission to Somalia.

Another Sh3.2 billion was being spent on refugees in Kenya.

Noting that terrorism was a global issue and that even EU countries like Britain and France had been hit by “people who use violence to try and prove their point,” he said his organisation had also given Sh100 million to Kenya Red Cross to boost its equipment.

The EU was also assisting in training Kenya police to counter terrorism and a course to track terrorists would start next week.

The EU official called for regional cooperation and intelligence sharing to combat terrorism as well as proper coordination of the fight against the menace in the country.

Mr Westcott said the EU was helping Kenya access international data on terrorism suspects to prevent them from crossing into the country.

He said banks should be involved to alert intelligence agencies whenever they see suspicious movement of money to cut financing of terrorists.

He was happy that religious leaders in Somalia had declared fatwa against Al-Shabaab.

Mr Westcott paid tribute to KDF for bravery in fighting the terrorists who attacked Westgate Mall.

Foreign countries have refrained from issuing travel advisories to Kenya five days after the daring siege on the Westgate Mall.

The countries have broken ranks with their past trends to stand in solidarity with the Kenya.

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