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[Dehai-WN] (IRIN): KENYA: Several thousand displaced after fresh clashes in Isiolo

From: Berhane Habtemariam <Berhane.Habtemariam_at_gmx.de_at_dehai.org>
Date: Mon, 2 Apr 2012 20:50:43 +0200

KENYA: Several thousand displaced after fresh clashes in Isiolo

ISIOLO, 2 April 2012 (IRIN) - Hundreds of families in the central county of
Isiolo have been displaced as deadly clashes pitting the Borana, Somali and
Turkana communities escalate.

Ibrahim Sheikh Mohamud, a leader from the neighbouring Wajir region, told
IRIN that at least 210 Isiolo families have been taken to the Anjara area in
Wajir West in the past week. "They are now settled at Anjara but they sleep
in the open. Almost all the children have pneumonia and malaria. They need
tents, food assistance and drugs," Mohamud told IRIN in Isiolo.

Among those fleeing the violence are widows, orphaned children and livestock
herders who have lost their herds to raiders in the past year.

"We only ferried children, women and the elderly using trucks that were
offered by individuals," said Mohamud. "Some of us contributed fuel and food
to assist these families; they are in a very pathetic situation."

In the latest attack on 30 March, a young girl and an adult were shot dead
less than 5km from Isiolo town. Five other people, among them a female
teacher, were killed on 28 March in nearby Kilimani.

According to UN sources, two ethnic Boranas were reportedly killed by
suspected Turkana gunmen in the Gambella area along the Isiolo-Garba Tulla
road on 30 March, raising fears the incident could spark further revenge
attacks in the coming days.

Ordered out

Herders from Wajir and Mandera districts have also started leaving Isiolo
following a government directive.

"We have lost a lot of animals and people," said Hassan Nurow, a livestock
owner who was heading to Wajir. "We were expecting the government to protect
us but unfortunately... [the government] instead ordered us to leave and
blamed us for causing the skirmishes."

The acting permanent secretary for provincial administration and internal
security, Mutea Iringo, last week ordered all migrant pastoralists to leave

"These people have no reason to be around. They came here because of the
drought. It has rained [and] Northeastern [Province] has enough pasture, so
they have to leave immediately," Iringo told IRIN.

The herders were said to have been asked by local politicians to remain in
Isiolo to allow them to register to vote in the upcoming 2013 elections.
Politics and planned development schemes have fuelled an upsurge in
inter-communal killings and displacements in Isiolo since mid-October 2011.

According to Iringo, some of the three communities' political leaders have
been instigating clashes for personnel gain. "Some of the so-called herders
- claiming to be innocent - are crooks involved in the gun-running
business," he said.

"They had established Isiolo as a storage place for the guns... Evidence
attesting to this [is] available. Some have been arrested selling guns or
while poaching."

Meanwhile, traders and business people are suffering.

"I have lost many animals. I had to sell four camels at 360,000 shillings
(US$4,390) to hire home guards and rent a house for my family," local
livestock farmer Abdi Salan Sheikh, told IRIN.

He said he had lost more than 50 camels and 246 goats, and has had to move
his family back to Mandera, in the northeast. "My children have been unable
to secure a place in school in Mandera until next term."

Shariff Mohamed, a Somali camel milk trader in Isiolo, told IRIN business
rivalry was also a problem. "We have a group of people who fear that Somalis
will take control of the town. I am not moving but unfortunately I only get
40 litres [of milk] unlike in the past when I used to sell 200 litres to
Nairobi every day."

Turkanas displaced

The violence has displaced at least 500 Turkana families from Isiolo town.
They are now seeking refuge in Isiolo's Ngaremara Location and in
neighbouring Laikipia and Samburu districts, Ekwam Terru, a local Turkana
leader, told IRIN.

"We have lost a lot. [Most] of our people are camping at a church in
Ngaremara. Almost a thousand have moved to Samburu and Laikipia; they
include school children." He said at least 5,000 ethnic Turkana had been
displaced and more than 122 of their houses torched.

A Ngaremara livestock trader said he is no longer able to access the Isiolo
livestock market: "I have nothing now. My house was burnt. I have abandoned
my farm. My kids are out of school."

"We are in a worse condition and more desperate than Somalis [in Somalia]
who have been fighting for over two decades," said the trader.

According to upper eastern regional commissioner Isaiah Nakoru, the
government has deployed security officers in the area and appealed to
residents to help end the conflict, which has left dozens dead and displaced
thousands since late 2011.


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Received on Mon Apr 02 2012 - 14:50:53 EDT
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