Good afternoon and thank you for joining us today.
I stand here alongside incredible partners engaged in some of the most important work in Kenya today – countering extremism and stopping terrorism before it starts. Specifically:
- The brave Kenyan men and women, including many civil society CVE champions, who in many cases risk their lives to carry out their critical work in dangerous circumstances around the country.
- Ambassador Kimani and the team at Kenya’s NCTC, who answered the call of President Kenyatta in leading the charge to complete CVE County Action Plans for each county in the nation.
- Ambassador Nic Hailey and our good partners at the British High Commission, with whom we have stood side by side in supporting the Kenyan people in their achievement of completing these plans.
- And finally for the American people who have given sacrificially to make possible our efforts to defeat al-Shabaab and develop these effective CVE programs.
It’s an extraordinary accomplishment. All 47 counties have completed CVE Action Plans less than six months after the attack at the Dusit D2 hotel complex. As that attack and others have shown us, violent extremism is a locally-driven problem – and one that requires local solutions and local leaders. All of you here today and many more stepped up and responded to President Kenyatta’s urgent call. You have dramatically increased Kenya’s collective defense against the twin threats of radicalization and terrorism. And a safer Kenya is a safer East Africa and a safer world. Thank you.
County Action Plans are the engines that drive CVE efforts at the local level. They offer the best means for truly devolving Kenya’s National CVE Strategy so that each county can focus on the programs that work for their communities. The Action Plans have also been critical in bringing government, civil society, and private sector players together. No one sector has all the answers or all the resources. A community-based approach requires the whole community.
To that end, it is important for us to recognize the essential part that our civil society partners play in driving progress to combat radicalization.
With the most recently passed law in parliament, we hope this will not silence in any way the voice of civil society organizations. Freedom of speech is a treasured value the United States shares with Kenya. Ambassador Kimani’s willingness to present amendments to the law is appreciated We both know it is of great importance.
As just one example of these effective programs, last week I met Fauziya Ali, Chair of Sisters Without Borders. The United States has teamed up with her and many other courageous women to take a stand against violent extremism. In my recent visit to Mombasa, I met with community leaders who are reaching out with compassion to Kenyan youth, helping them keep to a true and steady path. I’ll never forget my time with 60 young English Access students at the Khamis Boys School. It is this generation, the youth, who will benefit most from our work to end terrorism and disprove the lies of those who would try to recruit them into evil.
We must show our youth a vision of a safe and prosperous Africa free from terrorism. Even more so we should show our youth the critical part they play in achieving this vision.
I am convinced that the youth of Africa are ready and willing to do their part.
The United States is proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our Kenyan and British colleagues in supporting the recent completion of County Action Plans. But while we celebrate this achievement today, we know we can’t rest. As President Kenyatta stated this morning “To the enemies of freedom we will not relent”. We must ensure these plans are resourced and implemented in the way they were intended, and thereby honor the great efforts of all those who committed to bringing them into being.
So thank you all again for coming today. Our hope it that through today’s event, and this conference more broadly, other African nations can benefit from the hard-won best practices that Kenya has developed in addressing terrorism from the ground up.
Thank you very much.