FEBRUARY 3, 2010: Kenyans Flee After Crackdown on Illegal Guns

Kenyans Flee After Crackdown on Illegal Guns
SOURCE: Daily Nation (Kenya)
Nairobi — A crackdown on illegal arms in Uganda has forced more than 3,000 Pokot pastoralists, who moved to the western neighbour due to drought, to return home.

The Ugandan Army has intensified the disarmament along the Kenya/Uganda border. North Pokot District leaders said Uganda People's Defence Force personnel had been arresting innocent pastoralists and torturing them in military camps, demanding guns.

Those affected include herdsmen from Sigor, Chepareria, Sook, Kasei, Kacheliba and Alale divisions in the greater West Pokot region who had moved to the border districts, which have pasture and water for their livestock.

"There is a mass exodus of herdsmen who are fearing a violent confrontation with the soldiers. The soldiers are raiding villages arresting herdsmen and seizing their animals to force their families to surrender illegal firearms the soldiers claim the nomads own," said councillor James Karumet.

The affected pastoralists were camping in churches and temporary structures in Kacheliba, Orolwo, Kodich and Konyao market centres in Kacheliba constituency, he added.

Pastor Amos Pulai of Kenya Assemblies of God said seven women gave birth in the bush as they fled Uganda. He said the women were staying with relatives in manyattas and needed medical attention and food.

Mr Karumet appealed to the government and humanitarian organisations to provide relief food, clean drinking water, drugs and shelter to the affected families.

More than 20,000 Pokots crossed to Uganda's Moroto, Amudat and Nakapiripirit districts in search of food, pasture and water for their livestock after a dry spell on the Kenyan side.