RSS

Tag Archives: Cattle rustling

WHERE PARENTS BECOME POLICE RESERVISTS TO PROTECT THEIR CHILDREN

Every day as dawn breaks, Esuruan Awet takes up a duty that has become his routine.

Together with other Kenya Police Reservists (KPR), he arms himself in order to guard his children as they begin their journey to Nakatong’wa Primary school in Turkana East.

The father of five, who also doubles up as the school’s Parents Teachers Association chairperson, has been keeping vigil over the minors for the past three year.

The school, situated in Katilia Ward, has been under constant attack from bandits and parents have opted to take charge of their children’s safety.

When The Standard visited the school, established by the Government in 2009, there were over 12 armed KPRs keeping close watch around the school located 50 kilometres from Lokori town.

The ‘soldiers’ seem to have perfected their new occupation as is evidenced by how they position themselves, guarding the only school that is still open in the area.

NOT DETERRED

One ‘officer’ is positioned on top of the hill and has his eyes fixed on the upper side of the terrain where bandits advance from, causing mayhem in the village and the school.

“Two days ago, we spotted four bandits on top of the hill. We believe they had come to spy on our area and there was a fire exchange which lasted three hours but they managed to run away,” Awet said.

He said the decision to join the KPR was arrived at following constant attacks from bandits believed to be from the neighbouring community.

“They came to our village one day and took all my animals, including 80 camels. It is from this painful experience that I made the decision to stop fighting hard for my animals and instead focus on my children’s education,” he said.

He also informed us that many of the parents who are now devoting their time to ensure the safety of their children as they learn, have never been to school but are determined to make sure their children have access to basic education.

“The school has been attacked by bandits more than seven times but we have always managed to repulse them,” he said.

Bernard Etaan a teacher at the school, said the pupils learn under difficult conditions with many suffering from bullet wounds while others prefer to stay at home.

“The region is not safe but these parents have taken the initiative to camp around the school the whole day to provide protection to these young kids who deserve a bright future,” he said.

Etaan said the school needs more teachers and classrooms to contain the huge number of pupils.

Akutah Eudan, a parent and member of the KPR who also keeps watch over the school which hosts more than 200 pupils, says some of his colleagues have lost their lives while protecting the young ones.

Eudan says escalating attacks have seen more than five pupils from the school sustain injuries from stray bullets.

“Recently three people succumbed to gunshot wounds after the bandits struck. Their approach has now changed and they seem interested in killing and maiming without going for animals,” he said.

Eudan however, says that even as they take this risky position, they do not have enough firearms to fight the bandits who are better armed.

SCHOOLS CLOSED

“The fire arms we were given by the Government are not adequate. Bandits normally come in large numbers with sophisticated guns to wreak havoc on the village,” he said.

The police reservists however says this will not deter their resolve to protect their children.

“We want our children to grow up knowing that cattle rustling is not the only solution to survival.

We want them to change this region by focusing on education,” he said.

Esther Asokon, a cook at the school says the five solar panels mounted by the Government are their only hope and must be guarded zealously since locals also benefit from free solar power which they use to charge their mobile phones, among other things.

Ward Rep Lawrence Lotomo expressed concern over the high number of schools that have been shut down in the area.

Lotomo said five primary schools – Kidewa, Lomunyen, Naukottem, Kaibole and Echoke – have had to relocate or shut down due to escalating attacks.

He said that safety of children as they access education has now been left to parents, yet it is the Government that has the sole obligation to protect its citizens.

“For how long will parents double up as security officers yet the Government has adequate security machinery that can provide services to schools situated in insecure areas?” he asked.

The ward rep called on the Government to practice fairness in provision of security and make it possible for children to access basic education without fear of attack.
Source: The Standard Wednesday, October 29th

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags:

COMMUNITY PROTESTS OIL EXPLORATION IN WAJIR, CITES ISOLATION

WAJIR COUNTY: The quest for oil and gas exploration at Badada location in Wajir County has been met with opposition from a local community protesting lack of consultations and being sidelined by the prospecting company.

Canadian firm, Taipan Resource Incorporation, is to carry out exploration activities in Badada Block 2B.

But the local Ajuran community which claim to be indigenous of the area have petitioned the national and the Wajir County government to put on hold the explorations until their grievances are addressed.

Through their lawyer Hassan Bulle, the community is demanding full disclosure of the agreement details entered between the company and the county government.

“The issue of compensation and environmental mitigations has not been addressed”, reads petition adding that it is not clear how the indigenous community will benefit from jobs and tenders.

According to Ibrahim Sheikh Mohamud, a community leader, the company has so far not involved the indigenous community in jobs and tender opportunities.

“Virtually all jobs and contractors have been given to people who are not indigenous of Wajir West Constituency which may disrupt the fragile inter clan harmony in the area”, he said.

Wajir director of communication Yahya Mohamed when contact for comments said “Oil exploration is national government issue and any community, which feels it has some concerns over the activity, should seek redress with the Ministry of Energy, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and the company involved.”

He posed: “The community (Ajuran) is not even the indigenous people in the area. The area, where the exploration is to occur is a cosmopolitan area, why are we not having other communities who are also there complaining?”

An attempt to get a comment from the company was futile as Richard Leach, the field operations manager said “I’m currently in a meeting and I can’t speak to you”.

Source: The Standard Monday, September 15th 2014

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags:

VILLAGES TENSE AFTER FOUR HERDERS SHOT DEAD IN FRESH RAIDS

Tension has gripped border villages in Turkana after raiders suspected to be from the region shot dead four herders and stole over 400 animals in separate incidents in Baringo and West Pokot counties.

According to local administrators, the fresh attacks caused herders and their families to flee the area on Tuesday night for fear of revenge attacks.

Residents who had settled in Kapedo Location in Turkana East Sub-County can no longer access Sukuta River while those in Kaputir Village cannot fetch water from Turkwel River.

Chief Josephat Lopalal said two boys were killed in the raid on Silale Village, occupied by Pokots from Baringo.

“Kapedo is a border village and expects a retaliatory attack after news spread that the raiders had come from Lomelo,” Mr Lopalal said. Area county assembly member Didymus Chegem said Kapedo is an easy target as it is surrounded by Pokot herders.

“We demand more police officers to protect innocent residents as well as the immediate arrest of the perpetrators,” said Mr Chegem.

He said residents of Kapedo had declared that anyone raiding a Pokot village would be arrested and disowned by the local people in a bid to end conflict in the region.

AVOIDED GRAZING

In Turkana South Sub-County, Kaputir Chief Charles Lopuya said after a raid near the Turkwel Hydro Power Plant that also left two people dead, Turkana herders yesterday morning avoided grazing fields used by their Pokot neighbours.

“Nakwomoru and Kaputir herders are avoiding grazing their livestock along the Turkwel River in groups as large herds can easily attract an ambush,” said Mr Lopuya.

Turkana County Commissioner Julius Mathenge urged leaders from the hot spot regions to encourage herders to surrender their guns and assured them of protection from the government.

Mr Mathenge said as long as residents were armed, there would never be peace in the region.

Source: Daily Nation Wednesday, September 24, 2014

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: ,

MANDERA GOVERNOR ALI ROBA APPEALS FOR HELP FOLLOWING CHAOS

Mandera County Governor Ali Roba has now appealed for assistance for the residents who have been affected by recent inter-clan fighting and persistent drought that has ravaged the county.

Addressing the press on Wednesday, Mr Roba called on the Devolution ministry and donor organisations to come to the aid of people from the county who have been displaced.

Following the recent clashes pitting the Garre and Degodia clans, there was massive displacement of people from their homes.

The situation has been made worse by severe drought, which has forced people to move from their homes especially in search of water and pasture for their livestock.

He said this has put a lot of pressure on the county administration, which has so far dug 20 boreholes.

SEEK LASTING PEACE

The governor said this situation had made the path to achieving lasting peace very difficult.

He appealed to local and national leaders to help encourage the warring sides to live in harmony.
Following the inter-clan wars, 31 people have so far been killed and 55 others injured.

Thousands more have been displaced in the violence that started in mid-August 2014.

Police investigations indicated that the violence was as a result of political competition, with each clan wanting to have a dominant role.

The chaos started in Rhamu, where intense fighting was witnessed.

Heavily armed assailants then took the fight to other parts of the county, including Banisa, Chiroqo in Guba, Ogorwein and Gofa.

Besides displacing thousands of residents, the fighting has led to wanton destruction of property, including a primary school and a chief’s camp in Guba.

Following the inter-clan fighting, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Grace Kaindi said that the conflict pitting the Garre and Degodia was a spillover of similar skirmishes between the two communities in neighbouring Ethiopia.

Earlier last week, police launched aerial patrols over the county as the attacks continued.

A police helicopter was dispatched to provide aerial support for officers on the ground on the orders of Inspector-General of Police David Kimaiyo.

This followed intelligence reports that indicated that militia from Ethiopia were planning to cross over to the Kenyan town of Banisa to execute attacks.

Earlier, the Kenya Red Cross had suspended its services in the county, citing safety concerns for its staff.

This followed an attack on two of the humanitarian organisation’s ambulances in Rhamu Sub-County.

During the attack near Isack Kora Village, about 15 kilometres from Rhamu Town, a crew member sustained bullet wounds in his legs, while another escaped unhurt. Police officers came to their rescue.

A second ambulance was sent to help the crew had three of its tires punctured after the assailants planted nails on the road, frustrating rescue efforts.

According to Red Cross Secretary-General Abbas Gullet, the attackers looted medical supplies and equipment, including its radio from the first vehicle.

 COUNTY FACTS

Mandera County is located in north-eastern Kenya and constitutes five constituencies — Mandera West, Mandera East and Mandera Central.

It borders Ethiopia to the north, Somalia to the east and Wajir County to the south and south-west.

The main economic activity in Mandera is nomadic pastoralism. Cattle, sheep, goats and camels are the main animals reared here.

The county experiences high temperatures most of the year, averaging 28 degrees Celsius, and could sometimes go as high as 37 degrees.

According to a report released by the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (Acted) in 2011, Mandera’s precarious security situation has left it hugely underserved in drought-related interventions.

This is despite the fact that it is one of the counties in Kenya heavily affected by persistent drought.

Source: Daily Nation Wednesday, September 3, 2014

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags:

LORENGIPPI: A VILLAGE SCARRED BY RUSTLING

Not one but many in Lorengippi village, Turkana County, have adapted to life on crutches. The community here is used to falling prey to cattle rustlers who mercilessly spray them with bullets.

The area around Loima constituency that borders West Pokot County on the West and Uganda on the South has become the epicenter of livestock theft, with suspected Pokot and Karamoja rustlers striking often.

Teenagers and old men are the worst affected as The Standard learnt during a visit to the area about 90km from Lodwar town.

The small town within Loima district is among three other Turkana towns neighboring West Pokot  County and Uganda with a total population of about 10, 000 people.

BORDER DISPUTE

Majority of the residents, especially from Lokiriama, Lobei and Namurput, are said to have moved to Uganda in search of water and pasture for their animals following the recent agreement between Turkana County and Uganda government.

But even as Kenya and Uganda discuss how to settle the long standing border demarcation issues, innocent people die daily due to the incessant raids among the communities living along the border.

For John Ayien, being alive is something he treasures. Five years ago, in an attempt to safeguard his cattle from suspected Pokot raiders, he was shot and left for dead. The 72-year-old lost his left leg.

Mr. Ayien says the attackers stormed the village in large numbers in the evening soon after the animals arrived from the grazing fields.

Neither he nor the other villagers were aware of the enemy’s presence until Ayien heard his child screaming for help. He says when he dashed out of his grass-thatched house, he was met by gunfire.

STRAY BULLET

“I have witnessed several shootings of a similar nature but this time the bullets landed on me. Those people don’t give you time to explain or plead. Once they identify you as a stranger, they open fire,” says Ayien.

Another bullet victim, Anastacia Akai, lost her right leg in 2011 when their village was surrounded by over 200 suspected Pokot rustlers.

Ms. Akai still recalls the painful moment when her three children watched as their father was brutally killed by bullets in the 8.30pm incident. She says her husband was not armed at the time, which is how the attackers managed to shoot him twice in the chest killing him on the spot. Akai tells The Standard her leg was hit by a stray bullet meant for her husband.

“The raiders had their target because I was just few metres behind my husband and if they had planned on killing me, they could have done it. That’s why I’m insisting they came for my husband. After succeeding in their mission, they drove away our animals-over 100 goats and 17 cows,” Akai says.

The widow was left with six children-two girls and four boys-and is now among hundreds of other widows whose partners are said to have fallen under the raider’s bullets.

Lorengippi chief Nathan Loragorio says such incidents are common especially at the end of the year.

He recalls one incident in 2007 when 12 Turkana herders were shot dead in one night while numerous others escaped with serious injuries when they were cornered in the village.

In December last year, six people were killed followed by another four in the same month. Hundreds of animals were stolen.

The chief says cattle rustling usually happens in December when schools are closed, arguing that the raiders, particularly school children, go out to hunt for livestock to get school fees.

“I have a big problem here. These people normally alert you through text messages that you should expect them anytime. They don’t give false statements; they keep their word. The only problem is that you will not know when, “ Loragorio adds.

Area MP Protus Akuja, while addressing his constituents during a peace meeting organized by Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, said Turkana and Pokot leaders have recently agreed to work together to ensure that peace prevails in the two counties.

“I want to state that enough is enough. We have lost lives in both counties just because some incidents are politically instigated but let me assure that cattle rustling will soon come to end,” Mr. Akuja said.

Gideon, who attended the peace meeting, urged the communities engaged in cattle rustling to stop and instead embrace education for their children.

Source: The Standard Wednesday, September 3, 2014

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags:

Cattle Rustling, Scramble For Resources Leave Trail of Death:

Freshly dug graves, deserted cowsheds, lack of barns and undernourished women and children in many homes illustrate the magnitude of the raging Pokot-Turkana conflict. Cattle rustling and clashes over limited resources have left a trail of death and destruction along the volatile border of West Pokot and Turkana counties. The re-drawing of administrative boundaries in the new devolved system of governance coupled with the recent discovery of oil in Turkana have led to violent confrontations over key water and grazing areas. The conflict has displaced thousands of people, prevented agro-pastoral communities from accessing large areas of pasture and water, and hindered the mobility of migratory herders (a crucial drought coping mechanism). Many would expect the region endowed with rich oil deposits to be at peace with itself in anticipation of the multiplier effect the earnings are likely to churn out. Far from it. Turkana is home to Tallow Oil whose explorations are expected to save the region from poverty after decades of neglect.

Regular raids But,
This remains a distant fantasy to residents of Turkana South constituency following regular raids by their neighbours with no end in sight in the foreseeable future. The attacks were hitherto perceived to be traditional cattle rustling escapades but have morphed into boundary disputes and battle for resources with possible political undertones. Residents of Nakwomoru, Kakong’, Kainuk and Kaptir in Turkana South say their Pokot neighbours want to seize their land. “Look at these two graves, I buried my two sons a few days ago after they were killed by armed bandits. My husband died after people who took away his goats also killed him. Now I have no one to depend on. I am only counting days to my grave not knowing when they will strike again,” says an old woman only identified as Paulina, 89. At Kakong’, an area frequented by armed bandits, a pregnant Rebecca Asenyeni, 22 and her two children are mourning the death of their sole bread winner who was killed by armed bandits.

“I have nowhere to go. My husband used to sell charcoal to fend for us. I am also expecting a baby in a month’s time, but who will take care of us?” she quips through a translator because she neither understands nor speaks both English and Kiswahili. At a nearby home, Mzee Michael Lopai, 93, lies haplessly in his dilapidated Manyatta. His family fled the home following recent banditry attacks. The nonagenarian, who only speaks his native Turkana, says his home was raided and animals stolen after his two sons were killed. “I am waiting to die. Where can I go? My sons fled this area and went to look for food and shelter. I am alone, I cannot go anywhere let them come and kill me,” he says as a neighbour supports him to sit, but he falls over. His only property is the “shuka” that serves both as clothing and a sheet to keep him warm at night. With lurched openings from the walls of the manyatta, mzee peeps out and can tell night fall is near but cannot precisely say what time of day it is. Kakong’ has about 6,000 residents, with just two Kenya Police Reservists (KPR). Okure Adakerie and John Lokitrto are the only surviving KPR officers after armed bandits killed five of their colleagues.

“We cannot manage the population here but we will protect our people because we have no alternative,” says Adakerie adding that their work is pro bono. Two of their colleagues are nursing injuries they sustained while fighting armed bandits allegedly from Pokot.
Overpowered, “They numbered about 600 and came attacking from all directions. We were very few and they overpowered us, killing two of our own and injuring two who were recently release from hospital,” said Adakerie adding He reveals that three bodies are still rotting away about three kilometers from the village because residents fear lurking into the forests regarded as pokot hideouts. Lobokat Kainuk Ward representative Nicodemus Eguman said they lived in peace with their Pokot neighbours, albeit with normal cattle rustling, until 1983 when hell broke loose and attacks started taking political and land dimensions.

“After 1983 we were chased from Kainuk Hill and our people killed. We then came to Nakululumeit where we currently live. But our neighbours insist we still live in their land,” said. He said at least 15 people are killed and more than a 1,000 livestock stolen every week. He criticized security agents for often releasing inaccurate figures on the casualties during attacks, adding that the number of police officers is insufficient. “The public has lost faith in security agents and Government officers who blatantly lie on the figures. They can never say the truth because of fear of appearing as sleeping on the job,” he said. Kaptri Ward representative Shadrak Lodong’a says police take too long to respond to attacks even after receiving timely information. He says the area is vulnerable to attacks from the Pokot raiders following a decision by the Government to disarm police reservists. An administration police officer was shot in the area following an attack. He was shot at night after police shot dead a man and injured another when Kakong’ residents staged a demonstration, protesting the raging insecurity in the area. Heavily armed pokot bandits had attacked the village, killed five herders and one KPR officer before driving away over 2,000 goats, leaving owners who depended on their livestock vulnerable to famine. “The bandits attacked our villages and stole cattle and killed our people. But police who should have come to help us pursue the attackers turned against us and killed a man and left another seriously wounded,” said Lodong’a.

He says when Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo visited the area, following the killing of the officer, he ordered the disarmament of all KPR, and something the MCA says has left villagers vulnerable to more attacks. But Turkana South OCPD Kipsang Sangach disputes the claims, saying the police only confiscated the firearms for ballistic analysis in the investigations on the death of the AP officer who was shot at Nakwomuru camp about 7km from Kakong’ town. However, area leaders have questioned why guns were confiscated without replacements leaving the area vulnerable.

Ballistic laboratories “We did not disarm the KPR. They are a crucial component in the security of this area because they are the ones who understand the terrain. We took the firearms to our ballistic laboratories in Nairobi to ascertain whether the guns could have been involved in the killing of the AP officer,” said Kipsang. He says there are enough police officers to man the expansive area despite a few challenges but admitted that the fact that the area did not benefit from the latest batch of security vehicles will have serious consequences.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 9, 2014 in Natural resources

 

Tags: ,