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Humanitarian crisis looms in Mandera: Red Cross

08 June 2014, 10:02

Nairobi - The Kenya Red Cross has warned of a looming humanitarian crisis in the border areas of Mandera and Wajir counties following inter-ethnic clashes which have claimed more than 30 lives and displaced more than 12,000 others.

Already several people have been displaced as a result of inter- clan clashes pitting warring Degodia and Garre clans who have been feuding for years.

According to Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) official in charge of Disaster in Northern Kenya, Sahal Nuno, the situation in the internally displaced persons (IDP) camps is dire that needs urgent intervention.

"The number of IDPs is growing by the day. This has overwhelmed us because our limited facilities and things that we assist have been overstretched," Nuno told Xinhua from Mandera.

He said many IDP camps that had been set up lacked toilets, forcing them to use the nearby bushes to go for long calls something he said exposed them to outbreak of diseases like cholera.

Nuno said that things were not made any easier due to the poor roads and long distance the humanitarian personnel had to go to reach the affected.

"We are calling for concerted efforts from all the stakeholders including the government and the two counties since as an organization we cannot do everything. This notion is completely misplaced," he added.

Mandera and Wajir counties have suffered decades of marginalization and underdevelopment, resulting in poor transport and communication infrastructure, and extremely low access to basic services such as water, health care, education and markets.

Security in the restive region of northeastern has been at its lowest ebb since Kenya took its troops to Somalia to fight the Somali militia after a series of Kidnappings and attacks on the Kenyan soil.

The eastern region of the county bordering Somalia, where Mandera town is located, is particularly prone to bouts of sporadic clan and terrorist-led attacks, which have undermined economic progress and investment in the area.

The clashes have directly affected 10 locations in Tarbaj District namely Lehely, Bojigaras, Mansa, Burmayo, Ogoralle, Ber janai, Dunto, Basanechaa, Gu Nana and Belowle (Wajir North).

The clashes further affected other centers that have had an influx of displaced persons which include Sarman, Elben, Tarbaj, Kutulo, Batalu, Danaba, Quad ama and Gulani.

Some of the basic things that he said are required are food, water, cooking utensils and beddings.

A spot visit to some of the camps in Wajir county found the families who have been displaced from some of the villages after their houses and property were burned are now living under trees since there are no shelters or assistance given to them.

At the El-adowy IDP camp, Xinhua met mothers erecting makeshift shelters using tree branches, papers and clothes to protect their young one from scorching sun and cooled night.

Xinhua witnessed the deplorable condition the children are subjected to. Most of children under five years have been spending their nights in the cold for the last week after fleeing their homes.

"We urgently need medical attention, water and food aid. We are suffering but nobody seems bothered by our plight. Things get worse by the day," said Abdi Hassan who was displaced from El- adowy village told Xinhua on Friday.

The 55-year-old Hassan who has eight children all who are under the age of 15 said that things get worse by the day.

"I sincerely don't know who will welcome to our rescue. These inter-clan clashes that keep re-emerging must surely get a lasting solution. Otherwise there is no need of being alive and being subjected to all this," Hassan said.

Hassan who is a Garre who has known Wajir as his home county is among the few Garres found in the county predominantly occupied by the Degodias.

A five-year-old Abdullahi Mohammed, who fractured his right arm after he slipped and fell while fleeing the clashes at the night, is yet to receive medication.

His parents Mohamed Ali and Halima Ali say that no help has been forthcoming.

"We have forced to helplessly watch as our second born child continues suffering. There is little we can do to assist him since we don't have money to take him to hospital. All our properties were reduced to ashes," said Ali.

He adds that they cannot trace their livestock which he says were stolen by the militias. They were their only source of livelihood.

Wajir County Director of Education Hassan Duale disclosed that more than 3,000 pupils and students are out of school after ten primary schools and one secondary school were closed due to inter- clan clashes.

The fresh inter-clan clashes were sparked by the killings of three laborers from the Degodia clan by suspected Garre clan members on May 13 in Wajir County.

The men were killed while clearing bushes on a road between Wajir and Mandera counties, according to government officials.

The clashes have been blamed on a resolution that was arrived at by the two communities after they refused to honor it.

The resolution that was arrived in mid 2013 after 60 people were killed was that administrators in areas where fighting is reported could take responsibility and resign or be sacked. It was also agreed that the attackers pay a certain number of camels to the aggrieved community.

For now, tension remains high in the two counties with members from the two communities still feuding.

- Xinhua

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