In Summary
  • The national and county governments should review the security of all the Cuban doctors wherever they are deployed
  • Mandera, other northern counties and parts of the Coast have suffered seriously due to insecurity and especially terror attacks.

The abduction of two Cuban doctors in Mandera focuses attention on security in the country.

On the surface, it raises questions about the safety of the Cuban doctors working in Kenya as well as other foreigners.

But importantly, it is a statement of the general state of insecurity. It is too early to pinpoint the perpetrators, even though police suspect Al-Shabaab terrorists. Whoever they are and whatever tag they wear, they are criminals who must be dealt with.

SECURITY

Abduction of foreign nationals has serious implications as it dents the image of the country and severs relationships.

Which is the impact the abductors and their collaborators sought to achieve.

Kenya had pledged to provide security and ensure wellbeing of the Cuban doctors, who had been brought in to ease the burden of staff shortage in medical institutions across the country.

For good measure, the 110 doctors are generally well taken care of, a fact that has elicited resentment from local doctors, who have argued that the preferential treatment amounts to discrimination.

The local doctors have also wondered why Kenyan doctors sent to Cuba have not been accorded similar privileges. But those are subsidiary issues. The key issue is the safety of professionals working everywhere in the country irrespective of their nationality.

TWO DECADES

Mandera, other northern counties and parts of the Coast have suffered seriously due to insecurity and especially terror attacks.

Due to proximity to Somalia, a country that has not had an organised government for more than two decades, criminals roam across the border and vanish after committing their nefarious acts.

Such context provides good cover for common criminals or other dubious characters with ulterior motives to cause mayhem and get away.

It is not lost that the doctors had complained about their safety given the fact they were staying some distance away from the Mandera Level Five Hospital, where they worked. Also and not surprisingly, the abductors disappeared into Somalia where they are assured of sanctuary because of the lawlessness there.

RESCUE DOCTORS

The national and county governments should review the security of all the Cuban doctors wherever they are deployed and ensure their housing, working schedules and travel arrangements guarantee their safety. The same applies to other professionals.

Second, even as the government intensifies efforts to rescue the doctors, there is need to heighten surveillance and ensure security of all citizens. For the case at hand is a microcosm of the perennial challenge facing ordinary citizens, who are tormented and assaulted all the time.