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KENYA: Displaced numbers grow as more flee attacks in volatile district

NAIROBI, 9 August 2007 (IRIN) - Fresh killings in the Mt Elgon District of Kenya – where a long-standing dispute over land ownership has sparked violent clashes between two communities – have left more people displaced and heightened tensions in the area, aid workers said.

Seven more people were killed on 5 August and another three on 7 August in the Kopsiro area of the district, said William Kebeney, a church minister aiding the displaced.

He claimed people were being killed despite the presence of hundreds of police deployed in the area to beef up security. "The situation remains tense, people are worried. We are depending on God," he said.

The Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) estimates that more than 116,000 people have been displaced by the conflict during the last nine months.

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki on 8 August warned that the government would “ruthlessly deal” with those perpetrating the violence, saying his government would team up with neighbouring Uganda to stem insecurity in the border area.

He said some members of the armed groups responsible for the violence escaped across the border to Uganda after committing crimes in Kenya.

"We will not allow criminals to continue spreading insecurity among innocent Kenyans. Let’s work together to end this menace," he added.

Kebeney said the displaced have been unable to cultivate their farms and are likely to be dependent on food aid from KRCS and church-based charities until a solution to the conflict can be found.

He called on organisations with conflict-resolution skills to help reconcile rival communities in Mt Elgon.

Fighting broke out in December 2006 after inter-clan disputes over land between the Soy community and their Mosop neighbours.

A group calling itself the Sabaot Land Defence Force has been blamed for most of the violence. It was formed after claims of injustice over land allocation in the Chebyuk settlement scheme.

At least 180 people have died in the region since.




Copyright © IRIN 2007
This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States.
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