Kenyan authorities have beefed up security at the border with Ethiopia amid fears of escalating tensions in that government’s fight against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
They said, however, that the conflict has not had any serious security or economic impact on Kenya.
Marsabit acting County Commissioner, William ole Kakimon, said the government had secured hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue at the Moyale One-Stop-Border Point (OSBP), where trade has continued..
“So far, there have not been any negative impacts of the political unrest in Ethiopia along the Ethiopia-Kenya border, except for the change of tact among immigrants who use undesignated routes into Kenya,” Mr Kakimon said.
While there has been tension at the border, the influx of immigrants has continued to be a menace, with administrators lacking lasting solutions.
Last week alone, more than six people were arrested while trying to cross into Kenya.
Many have devised new methods of evading the multi-agency roadblocks erected on the Moyale-Isiolo highway.
The county commissioner said that due to the porosity of the border, most of the foreigners crossing into Kenya use motorcycles or donkeys.
They use the remotest routes to Merti then Isiolo or Modogashe to evade security officers.
Additionally, unscrupulous traders have been trafficking the immigrants at a fee.
The administrator noted, however, that the government has taken elaborate steps to stem smuggling and the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus disease.
Tache Elema, chief executive of Strategies for Northern Development (SND), said there hasn’t been a notable influx of immigrants that can be attributed to the political unrest in Ethiopia.
“The affected Amhara regions, where the attacks have been reported, are very far away from Kenya,” said Mr Elema, who has undertaken many programmes on human trafficking along the border points in Marsabit, Wajir and Mandera.
He said the distance between Moyale and Addis Ababa is about 770km while that from Addis Ababa to Amhara is about 500km, making the region too far-flung to result in a crisis at the Moyale-Ethiopia OSBP.
In Ethiopia, regional administrative divisions are drawn largely along ethnic lines, so political unrest, too, tends to be defined by these divisions, often with the federal government stepping in to stop it.
The fighting between the TPLF and the federal government reflects this dynamic, but analysts have predicted that it could also have more international implications.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced on Thursday that State security forces fended off attacks in the Amhara and Tigray regions by TPLF fighters and planned to send more troops to the area.