ICANN Nairobi Meeting in Doubt Due to Security Concerns

Posted in: Domain Names at 22/01/2010 01:58

Rumours have been circulating in recent days that ICANN are reconsidering holding their meeting in Nairobi in March. These rumours have been confirmed to be more than that with ICANN announcing they will be holding a special meeting of the ICANN Board of Directors on 22 January.

The meeting, to be held by teleconference on 22 January 2010 at 19:00 UTC is to assess plans for the upcoming meeting in Nairobi, and to consider the security concerns raised by community members in light of recent events.

The rumours were enough for a couple of articles to be published by African ICANN watcher Rebecca Wanjiku on her blog.

Wanjiku says "last Friday's fracas with the Muslims seems to have tipped the balance; ICANN now is contemplating moving the meeting to another safer city."

Wanjiku has pleaded for ICANN to not shun Nairobi, saying that while there are security issues, these are no more than what were encountered in Mexico. And that to have an ICANN meeting in Nairobi is important to raise the profile of the internet in the region and give domain names a profile amongst the population. She believes that holding an ICANN meeting in Nairobi will help raise hte profile of issues such as making "meaningful investments in critical infrastructure," something that is severely lacking on the continent.

Wanjiku says" Nairobi is safe, and people go on with their business as usual." She also says that "ICANN is important, but so are we! We are in Kenya, we are not planning to move, people are holding international meetings every day."

While Wanjiku has said Nairobi is safe, the British and Australian foreign offices beg to differ

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs has advised travellers to Kenya to "exercise a high degree of caution in Kenya at this time due to the high risk of terrorist attack, civil unrest and high crime levels." DFAT also says they "are receiving an increasing number of reports that terrorists may be planning attacks against a range of targets in Kenya, including Kenyan or Western interests."

However it is in the suburbs and along border regions that the greatest problems lie.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice is similar to that from Australia. They say "there is a high threat from terrorism in Kenya. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travelers." They note there have been some terrorist attacks, but that these were back in 2002.

The FCO advises "against all but essential travel to low income areas of Nairobi, including all township or slum areas, which experience high crime levels."

But they also note that "123,322 British Nationals visited Kenya in 2008. 114 British nationals required consular assistance in Kenya in the period 01 April 2008 - 31 March 2009 for the following types of incident, deaths (29 cases), hospitalisations (22 cases), and arrests, for a variety of offences (41 cases). During this period assistance was also requested with regard to lost or stolen passports (127 cases)."

For the full advice from both the Australian and British governments, see:
www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/sub-saharan-africa/kenya1
www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Kenya


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