Kenya has started construction of a 435-mile wall along its porous border with Somalia as part of efforts to shut out Islamic militant group al-Shabab. The massive security construction will consist of brick, fences and observation posts, and will stretch from the northeast Kenyan town of Mandera to Kiunga in the southeast, according to Al Jazeera.
Kenya has been a target for al-Shabab, an al Qaeda affiliate, due to the East African country’s military involvement against the Somalia-based terrorist group. The Islamic militants have repeatedly crossed into Kenya to launch deadly attacks. This year, 148 people were killed after al-Shabab gunmen stormed a Kenyan college of mostly Christian students some 125 miles from the Somalia border. The group has killed more than 400 people in Kenya over the past two years, and the security wall aims to put an end to these attacks.
"Whatever it is going to cost us and whatever it will take, we are going to make sure that our country is safe," Kenyan Vice President William Ruto said in a televised speech in April.
The project has generated a heated debate. George Morara, vice chairman of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, said building the border wall is an “exercise in futility” and pointed to similar projects in other countries that have failed.
"It is a monumental waste of taxpayers' money. Where similar walls have been built or exist to keep out the so-called 'undesirables', they have not been successful,” Morara told IRIN News in April. “Case in point, Israel's wall to keep out the Palestinians has not stopped the attacks against Israel. They have only led to more-creative ways of circumventing the barrier.”
David Anderson, professor of African History at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, called the security wall "a crazy idea” and said it does not solve the problem of al-Shabab actively recruiting Kenyan youth.
“Are we going to keep al-Shabab in [Kenya] or are we going to keep them out? The problem at this stage is inside Kenya,” Anderson told IRIN News. "The wall, I assume, is more intended with dealing with refugees, but it’s a ridiculous idea.”