Somalia: Govt Stops Visas on Arrival for Kenyans

7 December 2020

Somalia has suspended the visa-on-arrival plan for Kenyans, with travellers now required to apply for the permits at the embassy in Nairobi.

The directive takes effect from December 13, Somalia's Immigration and Naturalization Directorate said, citing the risk of Covid-19 infections.

"In line with the federal government's policy of ensuring security, improving migration management and reducing the risks of Covid-19 infections, all Kenyan passport holders travelling to Somalia are obliged to obtain visas from Somali embassies," Somalia said in a statement Monday.

Kenyan diplomatic passport holders hoping to travel to Somalia, the agency said, are required to get approval from the Mogadishu's minister of foreign affairs.

"Any traveller with a Kenyan passport that does not adhere to the above policy will be denied entry," the agency warned.

Embassy reopened

Mid-November, Somalia reopened its Nairobi embassy premises, 10 years after Mogadishu won a court case against a private Kenyan businessman who had bought it illegally during the civil war.

The premises initially purchased in 1972, in Nairobi's Westlands area, were renovated over the past two years under the tenure of Somalia Ambassador Mohamoud Ahmed Nur 'Tarsan'.

The reopening means Somali diplomats will no longer rent its offices in Nairobi.

Kenya and Somalia have had perceived lukewarm relations in the recent past, especially after Somalia sued Kenya at the International Court of Justice over a maritime boundary in the Indian Ocean.

In 2019, a meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Somali counterpart Mohamed Farmaajo agreed to normalise bilateral relations, starting with restoration of the issuing of travel visas on arrival for citizens of the two nations.

Nairobi's plan

Somalia's move is a step back at a time when Nairobi has indicated it is considering visas on arrival for Somali nationals come 2021.

Citing the 35,000 Kenyans that presently live in Somalia and the half a million Somalis in Kenya, Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau last month proposed that Kenya starts a visa-on-arrival plan for Somali nationals.

It is now mandatory for them to stop at the Wajir Airport before proceeding to Nairobi.

Kenya last year in May announced suspension of direct flights from Mogadishu, re-routing flights to Wajir Airport for security checks, barely two years after the two countries agreed to end a decade-long ban.

Somali nationals are currently required to apply for visas in Mogadishu before travelling to Kenya.

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