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Cameron Says Travel Warnings Hurt Kenyan Fight Against Militants

  • U.K. Premier to visit Kenya in 2016 to discuss security ties
  • Kenyan President Kenyatta says advisories damaged economy

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said advisories issued by his government warning people not to travel to parts of Kenya are detrimental to the East African nation’s fight against extremism.

“We all agree that the effect of the advisories are what the terrorists actually want because it defeats the efforts to stop extremists from seducing people into their activities,” Cameron said during a meeting with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in New York on Monday, the presidency said in an e-mailed statement.

The U.K. has issued warnings against traveling to areas including along Kenya’s coast and around the capital, Nairobi, after a series of attacks mainly carried out by al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-linked militia. More than 500 people have died in Kenya since the militants raided the Westgate mall in Nairobi two years ago, according to Verisk Maplecroft, a Bath, U.K.-based consultancy.

Tourist arrivals in Kenya, which the country depends upon to provide about $1 billion in foreign-exchange earnings, dropped 31 percent in the seven months through July, according to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics data.

Kenyatta said the advisories had led to loss of jobs as tourist destinations scaled back operations, leaving formerly employed young people at the risk of being recruited by extremists.

“The advisories work contrary to our aim to defeat extremism and they have hurt the economy of the whole coast region,” Kenyatta said.

Cameron said the two governments should renew a military pact that allows British troops to train in Kenya after it was delayed amid the diplomatic feud over travel advisories. Cameron is scheduled to visit Kenya next year to discuss security and economic cooperation.

Kenyatta and Cameron met on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, where the British leader said Europe and other countries have to address the root causes of migration.

“The current immigration crisis in Europe is making us realize that we have not done enough to help solve the problems in regions facing conflicts,” Cameron said.

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