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Death, hunger and fear as Mau Forest clashes continue

By NATION TEAM
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The death toll in tension-packed Nessuit in Eastern Mau Forest rose to four on Friday, after one more case was reported.

More houses were torched following bloody confrontations on Thursday night, between members of the Ogiek and Kipisigis communities.

FEAR, SUSPICION

The chairman of the Ogiek Council of Elders, Mr Joseph Towek, said more houses and shopping centres in Ndoswa were razed down by people from a rival community.

“The situation seems to be getting out of hand as residents are now taking the law into their own hands. The government must end the clashes,” said Mr Towett.

Njoro Deputy County Commissioner Mr Muthama Wambua assured residents that the government will restore peace.

On Friday, tension, fear and suspicion engulfed the once quiet and serene area that is home to the indigenous Ogieks and new settlers from the neighbouring Kericho and Bomet counties.

Smoke from the burning houses was seen in several villages in the silent centre at the heart of the expansive water tower.

Many other shopping centres were deserted and only smoke from the ashes of the trees incidentally cut illegally from the forest was remaining.

ELUSIVE PEACE

Peace is still elusive in the area despite the security agencies condoning the area.

Three more people, including a police officer, were injured as the tribal clashes continued to rock the region.

Hundreds of families continued to flock to schools to seek refuge as the government intensified patrols.

The region is now staring at a humanitarian crisis as the displaced families are running short of basic necessities’ including food, shelter and clothing. There are also concerns about their health at the camps.

At Sigaon Academy where more than 500 clash victims are camping, the facilities are stretched.

With eight tiny classrooms available, about 40 people are forced to share a room while others spend the night in the open fields.

Children and lactating mothers are fighting to survive starvation and harsh weather conditions as men armed with bows and arrows put a human shield around them.

Area chief Mr Sammy Kirui said that the families finished the little food they carried while fleeing.

Nr Kepha Magenyi the Programmes Coordinator with the Internal Displaced  Policy and Advocacy Centre blamed the government for failing to send humanitarian assistance.

Mr Magenyi said the administration has refused to start the process of enumerating the families to enable the agencies to help them.

“These people did not come here willingly but for security reasons. The government is acting against the law in failing to recognise them as IDPs,” said Mr Magenyi.

The violence has dealt a blow to learners as schools have remained closed since the violence broke out on Wednesday.

Six schools have been converted to IDP camps. Some of the affected areas include Nessuit, Mauche, Kaprop, Kapkalang, Block Ten, Vikingi Tatu and Mariashoni.

ARROW WOUNDS

Meanwhile one of the victims at Nakuru Level Five Hospital has been transferred to Moi Teaching Referral Hospital as doctors failed to remove an arrow from his neck.

Nurse in charge Dr Arphaxard Kemboi said his artery was affected, hence the need for specialised treatment.

“We don’t have a specialist,” said Mr Kemboi.

Seven out of the 11 patients who were admitted at the hospital on Wednesday were discharged yesterday after successful operations to remove the arrows.

One person is still in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) as an arrow was pulled out of his chest.

“The patient is responding well to treatment and is out of danger”, Said Dr Caroline Njoki.

One person was yesterday taken to the facility after he was shot in his back.

CALL FOR PEACE

Meanwhile farmers in the area have called on the government to end the clashes as they may not be able to harvest their crops.

“These clashes are hurting us irrespective of whether we are targeted or not as we neighbour the warring communities,” said Mr Joseph Ndegwa.

Mr Ndegwa said his two-acre maize plantation was looted by youths fleeing the area.

Elburgon Assistant County Commissioner Mr Naftaly Kipkorir said the chaos have resulted in more cases of cattle theft and that tension remained high despite the deployment of armed police and officers in the General Service Unit.

He asked residents to maintain peace.

Reported by Francis Mureithi, Joseph Openda, Mercy Koskey and John Njoroge.