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Armed camel herders pose security threat as dozen families flee homes in Kitui East

Marauding  armed  camel herders continue to pose security threats as dozen families flee from their homes in Kitui East  despite government promises of peace restoration in the area.

The  twelve families in the volatile Kinanie village in Kitui East have fled their homes fearing reprisals from gun
wielding camel herders who have forcefully invaded and evicted the locals from their farmlands.

Confirming the displacement of the dozen households on Tuesday, Kitonga Mwaniki, who is the Chairman of Kinanie Community  Policing unit said that several families have built temporary makeshift structures in thickets to escape the attacks from the heavily armed camel herders.

“This area is served by Endau Police Post which is over 20 kilometres from here. In case of an attack it may take hours before police response arrives to secure the lives and properties of the residents,’ said Mwaniki.

He  lamented that Endau Police do not have a vehicle to help them ease their security patrol movements, they have to call  Mutitu Police Station  in  Zombe to get a police vehicle which is another 20 kilometres away to get reinforcements.

“We  also lack telephone network connectivity in Kinanie. If there is an attack, we rely on bodaboda to carry the message to Endau Police Post for action. If the area is not safe for the bodaboda, we surrender to fate as we await police  rescue,” noted Mwaniki.

The community policing chairman said that the security situation in the area is wanting despite the relative calm they are  experiencing because of the rains that has generated vegetation across the border.

“Once the vegetation in the pastoralists’ farms is depleted, they will cross over to Kinanie and attack the locals. This
displacement is affecting our livelihoods. We cannot do meaningful socio-economic development,” said Mwaniki.

He appealed to the government to construct a police post in Kinanie to ease police response in case of any threat,
invasion or harm to innocent civilians.

Mutia  Maleli, the head of one of the twelve families who have become Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Kinanie, has built a makeshift structure unfit for human habitation in a thicket to shield his family from the marauding armed camel  herders.

“I was displaced by the herders who invaded my farmland to graze their camel herds. I had a well-built home which has  remained desolate for several months now since I was displaced. My family is exposed to the vagaries of bad weather, rain, wind and fear of attack at night, “said Maleli.

The IDP appealed to the government to flush the pastoralists out of their area and push them back to their home counties to enable the displaced households return to their farmlands to lead a normal decent life as they did before the attacks.

In  addition, Maleli called on the government to compensate them for crops destroyed by the camel herders, saying that  the  animals trampled on their thriving farmlands as they pushed them out of their source of livelihoods.

I do not foresee myself going back to my farmland in the near future. The situation on the ground is still tense. The
camel herders’ invasion is still fresh. They care about grazing their herds at the expense of destroying our livelihoods,” lamented Maleli.

In  a  swift rejoinder, Micah Ondoro, Mutitu Sub-County Deputy County Commissioner  whose jurisdiction includes the volatile Kinanie village denied camel herders invasion in the area, saying that the locals are experiencing peaceful coexistence.

“If  there  is  anyone  who  has moved  out  of  their home, it is voluntary and not related to insecurity posed by camel herders’  invasion,” said Ondoro.

However, the  administrator  said that he had already dispatched a security team led by the Mutitu Sub-County Police Commander  to  ascertain the allegations of displacement of people from their homes.

“I have toured  the area  and people are calm, going about their daily routines  without  any  fear. Schools  are  open and normal learning taking place. We have total control of the security situation  in  the  area  and  there  is nothing to  worry  about,” said Ondoro.

By  Yobesh  Onwong’a

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