Local athletes to walk 800km to break "cycle of violence"
30 June 2015, 09:21
Nairobi - A dozen world-famous Kenyan athletes, including Ezekiel Kemboi, Paul Tergat and Tegla Loroupe, will lead a 22-day "walk for peace" across northern Kenya aimed at curbing rising inter-ethnic violence.
The 836 km (520 mile) walk is being organised by Commonwealth Gold medallist John Kelai who decided to take action after three of his uncles were shot dead in a cattle rustling raid, where rival pastoralist groups steal livestock from each other.
The traditional practice has turned deadly in recent years with an influx of cheap guns across Kenya's porous borders.
"We are going to inspire and engage the young people from the divided communities and help to break the cycles of violence," Kelai said in a statement.
Ethnic groups often carry out revenge attacks against each other in a sparsely populated rural areas where many homesteads have weapons to deter invaders.
More than 210,000 people were displaced in Kenya's northeastern counties of Mandera and Wajir in 2014, many more than in previous years, according to the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.
This "silent displacement crisis" is being driven by increased competition between pastoralists over scarce resources, overstretched security forces and power struggles among politicians, it said.
Kenya's army was sent to restore order to the town of Moyale, 800km (500 miles) from the capital, Nairobi, in 2013 after dozens were killed and villages were burned to the ground in a jostle for power between rival clan militia.
The athletes will walk across the Rift Valley from the arid northern town of Lodwar to Lake Bogoria, famous for its pink flamingoes, starting on July 15.
They aim to raise $250,000 in sponsorship using the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo to support peace-building programmes for young people in the region.
Other athletes taking part include Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich, Irine Jerotich, Andrew Lesuuda, Alex Kipchirchir, Stephen Kiprotich and Douglas Wakiihuri.
The walk is being supported by the Aegis Trust, a British charity that campaigns against genocide.
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