With mixed reactions from African diplomats, the United Nations Monday banned some Omicron travel in southern Africa in the wake of the travel bans imposed on suspected Intercontinental terrorists from the Islamic State and Somalia’s al-Shabaab militants.
The UN moves follow Russia’s declaration last week that the travel ban was aimed at fighting terrorism.
Several regional leaders at a summit in Nigeria called for the ban, South Africa’s ministerial said on Twitter Monday. An official in Mali, the region’s most affected country, said Nigeria also wanted the ban.
Uganda and South Africa, two countries that in the past have fought militants in Somalia, have confirmed or claimed to have seized Omicron militants.
Many say the bans are politically motivated.
“We are disappointed that this unilateral, arbitrary decision has been taken,” a South African diplomat said in response to the ban.
Uganda’s foreign ministry said it was “urgently considering the implications of this decision.” Kenya government officials were not immediately available for comment.
About a million people from the group have been on the move in recent months and have crossed into Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
Zambia’s foreign ministry released a statement urging immigration authorities to issue travel permits.
The ban prompted panic among people living in southern Africa’s mining towns. On Monday, at least 21 people in Zimbabwe were injured after police fired on crowds trying to make way for the Omicron militants, as the streets were engulfed by panic.
In 2009, the South African government said Islamic radicals attacked security forces at a border post and killed four police officers, kidnapping 22 others.
The Horn of Africa has long been plagued by militant groups intent on exporting radical ideas to neighboring countries or setting up terrorist camps there.