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Press Statement by US Ambassador to Kenya Robert F. Godec On Security in Kenya

June 21, 2014

The United States and Kenya are longtime, close friends.  Our partnership has accomplished a great deal in 50 years.  Today, the threat from extremists poses new challenges in Kenya, and now is a crucial moment for Kenyans to come together.  I urge all of Kenya’s leaders to reach out to one another and to all communities across the country.  Kenya’s future and the battle against extremism require strong efforts on security while holding firm to shared values of democracy, justice, human rights, rule of law, and economic progress.  The United States remains a committed partner and will continue to work side by side with Kenya in the fight against terrorism.

In doing so, we provide extensive support for Kenya’s security and for security in the region, which are just one part of the billions of shillings of  assistance we provide every year in health care, education, agriculture and other areas.  Working alongside the Kenyan government and other governments in the region, the United States assists Kenya and East Africa to counter the threat posed by terrorist organizations.  This support includes sharing information, strengthening the capacity of Kenyan security forces, helping in counterterrorism investigations, and specifically working to eliminate the al Shabaab threat.

To cite just a few examples of our security assistance commitment to Kenya, since 2011 the US government has provided to the Kenya Defense Force KSH 11.1 billion in support, including KSH 10.3 billion for counterterrorism and border security programs, and for the procurement of aircraft, patrol boats, and equipment upgrades.  We have funded over KSH 3.8 billion in civilian counterterrorism assistance to Kenya over the last four years, making Kenya the fourth largest recipient of such assistance worldwide.  We have spent over KSH 60 million in 2013 alone to train Kenyan military officers in the United States.  We also train 300-400 officers each year from almost every Kenyan law enforcement agency, including the Kenya Police, Administration Police, Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Ports Authority, Kenya Maritime Authority, Department of Immigration, Kenya Revenue Authority, National Counter Terrorism Centre, Director of Public Prosecutions, and Kenya Airports Authority.  In addition, we provide Kenyan security agencies with regular counterterrorism assistance and training given by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (including in our response to the attack on Westgate Shopping Mall), Transportation Security Administration (including aviation security), and Customs and Border Protection (including rural border patrol).  We also provide extensive support to counter the ideology of violent extremist organizations.  These examples represent work we are already doing, and we expect to provide much more assistance in the future.

To directly address the al Shabaab threat at its source, we have provided over KSH 72 billion to support the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) since 2007, plus KSH 11 billion per year for peace keeping forces, money that also goes to the KDF.  We have provided KSH 15.7 billion since 2011 to train the Somali National Army and are providing over KSH 2 billion to train security and law enforcement personnel on procedures to deal with terrorism.  We have also taken more direct steps to counter the threat of al Shabaab.  Aware that defeating al Shabaab does not just involve a military response, the United States has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian, stabilization, and development assistance to Somalia during the past several years.

A number of rumors have circulated regarding the US Embassy and our relationship with Kenya that are false and misleading.  The US Embassy in Nairobi has not closed and is not closing.  Embassy personnel are not evacuating.  We are making modest staffing changes at the Embassy that will not affect our commitment or assistance to Kenya.

The United States modified its travel warning for Kenya on June 19, as it does when necessary, due to the changing security environment.  The first obligation of the US government, like all governments, is to inform and protect its citizens.  We issue travel warnings and advisories for countries across the globe; our travel warning for Kenya is nothing unique.  We have not advised Americans against visiting Kenya and have not “banned” travel here.  We have advised American citizens about the security situation in Kenya so that they can make informed decisions about their potential visits.  We keep our travel warnings under constant review, and when security improves we recognize it, as we did on June 20 when we eased our travel alert for Thailand.

Our resolve to work with Kenya in the fight against terrorism is unwavering.  Our 50-year partnership is important and we are committed to continuing to strengthen it.  As I have said before, the United States stands with Kenya.