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From Local Conflicts to Global Terrorism: Can Refugees and Regional Security Problems Jeopardise the Renewal of Kenya?

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Over the last decade or so the African continent has continued to experience political changes of monumental proportions. Monumental not only because of the drastic restructuring of social and economic and political spaces, but also because of the introduction of new forms of politics and political actors. These changes were driven a great deal by the developments in the global system, in particular, the demise of the Soviet Union as a nation and super power, the triumph of the market, and more importantly, the end of the Cold War. In relation to these changes, the African continent has equally been characterised by a succession of large-scale refugee movements, internal population displacements and mass repatriation movements. In a number of countries – Angola, Burundi, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Somalia, for example, large proportions of the population have been uprooted, forced to abandon their homes by communal and ethnic conflict, persecution and violence. Most of these refugees have ended up in Kenya with a number of arms or religious fundamental ideologies. The process has witnessed an influx of arms in Kenya, helping fuel intra-ethnic and inter-border conflicts. Kenya has witnessed massive devastating terrorist attacks beginning with the bombings of the US Embassy and now Kenya has become an easy prey and target for terrorist activities. The reasons for this trend have been a concern for academics around the globe. A close look at intra-state conflicts in East Africa reveals a common pattern, for example: rebellion against central authority; inter-communal ethnic or religious conflicts; sporadic short lived conflicts related to resource around livestock; and generalised violence which is banditry-related. This study is a historical investigation of the development of local conflicts, informal militia and security measures during the transition to political pluralism in Kenya between 1992-2002, and tries to establish some links that may have connected or caused the country to be a target of international terrorism.


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