Is a New Kind of Civil War Brewing Inside Kenya?
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“As we are talking, many Turkana have run away from their homes, it is really a pity,” said the civil society worker. “The Turkana also happen to be in quite a number of places where these developments will be.”
“Let the truth be told, the Turkana are holding large swathes of land to the detriment of other communities,” a senior member of Isiolo county council was reported as telling a recent meeting convened to discuss deteriorating security.
The Turkana are mainly located in the outskirts of Isiolo town.
“There are five major communities in Isiolo which are all fighting for recognition. All of them think that they have a stake, leading to misunderstandings and the formation of alliances that have led to the loss of lives,” the civil society worker said.
“We want people to go back to normality with no more deaths. This kind of organized intimidation has to stop,” he said.
According to local sources who spoke to IRIN, a lack of clear land tenure policy has helped fuel conflict in the area as tracts earmarked for development are taken over, or “grabbed”, by people keen to cash in on Vision 2030.
Another source of tension is private game parks, known as “conservancies”, tourist destinations also designed to reduce poaching and promote community development. The Borana and Somali communities feel excluded from the economic benefits they deliver as well as their rich pastureland.
According to a priest in Isiolo, Jeremia Ndungu: “The great concern is how to broker peace among the communities who are unequal in matters of resources.”
Mama Kapua, a Turkana mother-of-12, fled her home in the Isiolo suburb of Kambi Garba after it was attacked on 22 October. Her husband, who stayed behind with one of their sons, died when the house was set on fire. The son escaped with burns.
“They [the attackers] are bringing in people from outside Isiolo who cannot speak Kiswahili. They are here to fight,” she told IRIN.
“My husband had nothing valuable worth being killed for. My son was preparing for exams,” she said, explaining that she managed to escape with the help of an ethnic Somali neighbour who lent her a niqab as a disguise.