Families flee as violence hits Pokot-Marakwet border

By Daily Nation

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Hundreds of families are fleeing the West Pokot and Elgeyo-Marakwet border following renewed attacks which have led to burning down of more than 200 houses and stealing of unknown number of animals.

The violence follows the killing of six people and destruction of property in a span of one month in retaliatory attacks between the Pokot and Marakwet communities.

Some of the affected areas include Ptsonu, Kapusheni, Serena and Kamelei from where residents have fled.

RELIEF SUPPLIES

Officials of the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) visited Kapushen and Kamelei to assess the situation and provide food and non-food items to affected a families.

Learning has also been paralysed in the area after seven schools closed as a result of the raids which have led to hundreds of families relocating to safer areas.

Among the schools which have been closed include Kapushen, Kamelei, Ptsonu, Sopowen, Tarak, Tapach, Pialang and Kamonges primary schools.

Two secondary schools, Kamelei and Tapach, have also been closed as parents relocate with their children.

STOP REVENGE ATTACKS

Speaking at Katiany Village, Kamelei location Tapach ward, KRCS Rift Valley Regional Manager Michael Ayabei called for calm while cautioning the communities against revenge attacks.

“Women and children are the most affected because residents from both communities have migrated. We have supplied a kitty of soap, tarpaulins, water jerricans and blankets,” he said.

He said the society will engage in peace building in order to reconcile the two communities.

Kamelei Sub-Location Assistant Chief Benjamin Kelan asked the government to beef up security in the area.

“People are displaced along the border of the two counties and should be helped. We need anti-stock theft camp in this place because we are experiencing gunshots every time,” said Kelan.

VILLAGES DESERTED

He said residents have deserted villages in four divisions and are hiding in the bush.

“There are no people in Tapach, Sigor, Lelan, Kapushen, Kamelei, Tapach have moved to areas like Sondany, Muino, Tapach and Kapyego,” said Mr Kelan.

West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo condemned the incident, urging both communities to embrace peace.

“Pokots and Marakwet are giving us shame. We need development because this is one of the rich areas in agriculture because we have milk Irish potatoes, pyrethrum and merino sheep,” said Lonyangapuo.

Prof Lonyangapuo called on the national government to intervene and address the land problem and unite the two communities living along the border.

FOREST LAND

“The government evicted people on the Marakwet side and burnt houses three years ago [and] gave residents Sh410,000 each and it did not explain that they were staying in forest land and the issue is causing havoc in the area .

“On the Pokot side, people are staying on private land. The county government cannot do anything,” he said.

He urged the government to set up an anti-stock theft unit camp in the area.

“We have free houses here. We urge the communities not to allow criminals. We need KPR vetted by chiefs, pastors, elders and police before they are given guns,” he said.

He asked the government to create administrative locations in the area.

He at the same time appealed for relief food from the government and non-governmental organisations.