With the death toll currently at 68, 175 injured, and a thousand hostages brought to safety, the Kenya Westgate shopping mall drama has gripped us all around the world since midday on Saturday. We express our deepest sympathy to the families of all killed or injured, as well as those traumatised by the event, for which Somalia’s radical youth unit al-Shabab has claimed responsibility. With the group of 10-15 gunmen and women still cornered by the rescue forces in a particular area, there is still an unknown number of people dead, injured and held hostage in the centre.
This terror attack does not only affect Kenya, but also has international ramifications. Not least of all that the centre is a popular venue for foreigners, and that many people around the world were killed and injured. It sends a message that cross-border attacks, driven by youth fanaticism is something that can bring worldwide attention to your cause. We are horrified that young people, caught up in politics and religious motives, have been manipulated and instrumentalised to become killing machines. This is just the type of subject mentality that our Subject to Citizen (S2C) change model is addressing as we work with youth across Africa to rise up, take responsibility and actively participate in bringing positive, peaceful change to their environments.
We thank our partners and YMCA members worldwide who have expressed their support. We pray for a speedy end to this madness. We pray and stand for justice. And we continue to pray for those shell-shocked and grappling to deal with what is unfolding and the aftermath.
God bless Kenya, God bless Africa.
Carlos Sanvee, AAYMCA General Secretary