Friday, May 18, 2012

Crisis looms after 5,000 displaced in tribal fighting

By GERALD ANDAE gandae@ke.nationmedia.com And WYCLIFF KIPSANG wkipsang@ke.natiomedia.com

A humanitarian crisis looms at Sibilo and Bartabwa villages of Baringo North District following the displacement of more than 800 families by fighting between the Pokot and the Tugen.

The worst affected areas are Tuluk, Kapturo, Kamwetio, Chepkesin, Boruiyo, Kalabata, Kaborion, Ng’aratuko, Barketiew, Kagir, Kosile, Menonin, Yatia, Rondinin, Chepkewel, Loruk and Chemoe.

More than 5,000 people— mainly women, children and the elderly— have been sleeping in the bush since the beginning of the week.

Seven people have been killed and thousands of head of cattle stolen in the conflict associated with cattle rustling.

Learning has been paralysed in the affected areas as 17 primary schools in Bartabwa Division are closed.

The situation worsened on Wednesday following the killing of a 90-year-old man by suspected Pokot raiders.

Cheated death

Baringo North MP William Cheptumo and district commissioner Joshua Ogango cheated death recently after their convoy was sprayed with bullets by raiders.

The government is yet to address the plight of the homeless families.

Kenya Red Cross on Friday provided the families with mosquito nets, blankets, utensils, 30,000 tonnes of maize and more than 20 tonnes of beans worth Sh10 million.

As the relief was being distributed, another attack happened four kilometres away, further increasing tension in the area.

Regional manager in charge of disaster Kennedy Mulama said they would treat pregnant mothers, children and the elderly to avert loss of lives.

“The vulnerable groups are camping in the bush and are at a higher risk of contracting diseases,” he said.

More than 3,000 pupils are believed to be out of school and some teachers have asked for transfers.

Kenya National Union of Teachers Baringo branch officials toured the area yesterday and called on Mr Cheptumo and his Baringo East counterpart Asman Kamama to reconcile the Pokot and Tugen communities.

“How long will we continue witnessing senseless killings and suffering of children for them to act?” Knut executive secretary Charles Kamuren asked.

He appealed to Eldoret North MP William Ruto to help bring the two leaders to the negotiation table and find a lasting solution to the perennial conflict.

The officials called on the government to beef up security in schools to avert further disruption of learning.