MANDERA/BULO HAWO, 1 August 2011 (IRIN) – Mandera town, on the border between Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, is the hub for aid operations in the drought-affected Mandera district in Kenya. It could have been a possible logistics base for sending help by road to the famine-affected areas in south-central Somalia, but the security risk is high.
About four months ago, Al-Shabab militia took over Bulo Hawo on the Somali side, and continue to mount sporadic attacks in the area even though it has been retaken by the authorities. On 27 July, the group used a mobile phone to trigger an explosion in Mandera town, killing a Kenyan police officer a few hundred metres from a UN office.
The border between Kenya and Somalia is not defined by any geographic or ethnic boundary – there are Somalis on either side. The town is the capital of Mandera district, where most NGOs and UN agencies responding to the drought are based.