The finance ministers of Kenya and Somalia insist that a maritime-border dispute between the two nations won’t stop the cross-border flow of humanitarian aid and trade.
The dispute about ownership of a 150,000 square-kilometre (58,000 square-mile) area off their Indian Ocean coastline has not caused any hostility between the two nations, Somalia Finance Minister Abdirahman Duale Beileh and Kenya’s acting Treasury Secretary Ukur Yatani told reporters. They spoke on Saturday at a press conference during the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington D.C.
The maritime area in question is said to be rich in oil, gas and tuna fish. In 2014, Somalia went to court to challenge a 2009 agreement that set its maritime border along latitudinal lines extending 450 nautical miles into the sea. The United Nations International Court of Justice this week granted Kenya’s request for a postponement and the case is now scheduled for June.
While Kenya has called for a negotiated settlement for the dispute, Beileh and Yatani both said their governments would abide by the ruling of the court.
As East Africa’s biggest economy Kenya has been a base for many organizations providing aid to Somalia, one of the world’s poorest countries, as it recovers from the aftermath of two decades of civil war. More than 250,000 Somali refugees and asylum-seekers are staying in Kenya, according to data from the UN Refugee Agency.
Kenya has been giving support “in terms of managing the humanitarian crisis,” Yatani said. “We have a duty of care as a brother.”