Secretary Kerry's Visit to Kenya Focuses on Our Common Goals

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
May 5, 2015
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Arrives at the UNHCR Headquarters for a Meeting with Refugees in Nairobi, Kenya on May 4, 2015. [State Department Photo/Public Domain]
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Shakes Hands with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi, Kenya on May 4, 2015. [State Department Photo]
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Delivers Remarks at a Wreath-Laying Ceremony at the August 7 Memorial Park in Nairobi, Kenya on May 4, 2015. [State Department Photo]
Secretary Kerry Addresses Reporters After Meeting with Kenyan Government Leaders, Opposition Leaders, UNHCR Representatives, and Somali Refugees in the Dadaab Refugee Camp While Visiting Nairobi, Kenya, on May 4, 2015 [State Department Photo]

Secretary Kerry traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, on May 3, 2015, to reinforce the importance of our strong bilateral relationship. 

In his meetings with government officials, business leaders, opposition leaders, humanitarian aid organizations and civil society representatives, he discussed a range of issues including security cooperation -- particularly in light of the recent tragic attack at Garissa University College -- refugee assistance, trade, and biodiversity.

While in Nairobi, Secretary Kerry met survivors of the 1998 terrorist attack in Kenya --  which killed more than 200 people -- and laid a wreath in the city's August 7 Memorial Park. He said, "Let me be clear: The terrorists who struck on August 7th, 1998 failed utterly in their purpose, which was to implant fear in the hearts of the Kenyan people and to divide America from the citizens of this country. They failed for the same reason that terrorists will always fail.” In Kenya, Secretary Kerry repeatedly discussed the need to address our ongoing shared challenge of countering violent extremism, mentioning other attacks, which have occurred in recent years -- at Westgate Mall, Garissa University, and elsewhere -- and have brought more tragedy to families in Kenya. He underscored, we have the power to fight back, not only with our military and law enforcement, but also through our unity and the character of our ideals.

He continued, "The only place for al-Qaida, al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, Daesh, and others like them is in the past. The future does not belong to them. The future belongs to the children who are laughing and playing right now in the streets of Nairobi, of New York, of Kano, of Dar es Salaam, of Mogadishu, of Garissa – children who have the right to grow up with joy in their hearts and the opportunity to build full lives of accomplishment and love, and to build families and a future. It is to them that we must dedicate our own efforts to apprehend and prosecute the guilty, secure borders, strengthen governance, invest in the health and well-being of all people, and unite across every boundary of race, nation, ethnicity, and creed to defeat terror and to enrich life.” 

The Secretary emphasized that defeating terrorism requires a long-term effort and a comprehensive strategy that include emphasis on border security, law enforcement actions and on persuading and preventing young people from joining extremist groups.


Another focal point of the Secretary's visit to Kenya was refugee assistance. Secretary Kerry underscored that Kenya needs international assistance and international solidarity on the challenge of hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled to there for protection from persecution, fear, and war. Secretary Kerry met with refugees and spoke to students at Dadaab -- the largest of Kenya’s refugee camps including a young woman who had been born at Dadaab, and who is now finishing high school.  He said, "We have an enormous challenge, all of us. This is not just a challenge for Kenya...This is a challenge for the global community. And all of us need to work together in order to guarantee that people don’t live in a refugee camp from the date of birth until the end of high school, but rather that they can go home. That’s our obligation. Refugee camps are supposed to be temporary, not supposed to become permanent cities in another nation. And we all have an obligation to do better in order to provide a better alternative to these young people."

Secretary Kerry announced that the United States has provided an additional $45 million to UNHCR for operations in Kenya. "We are proud of the fact that we’re perhaps the largest donor in the world in terms of the refugee effort at this moment, with 3.8 billion alone going to the refugees from Syria and that conflict. And this year, a significant – about $100 million coming in additional aid for the fight against terrorism here in Kenya alone. This funding is part of our effort to maintain our longstanding commitment and Kenya’s longstanding commitment to be able to provide haven to refugees. What this money will mean is better schools, it means access to health clinics, it means safer housing and clean water to drink, and it will benefit not only refugees but also particularly the Kenyan communities who graciously act as hosts.”

Learn more about Secretary Kerry’s visit to Kenya and his travel to Mogadishu, Djibouti, Riyadh and Paris, through May 7, 2015.  You can also view photos and other notes from Secretary Kerry while he is traveling by following @JohnKerry on Twitter.

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