IDPs fleeing Somali herders in Kitui call for relief food, aid
Residents of remote villages in Ukasi ward, Kitui county, are calling for help to end the murderous attacks by armed Somali bandits.
Following the recent attacks, more than 2,000 internally displaced families are camping in the bush in Kathungu, Katangini, Sosoma, Kiio and Ngooni villages in Ukasi.
Most of them have no food.
Because of inaction by the national government the residents, led by elder Simon Kasiva, appeal to the Kitui county government for help.
They have urged Governor Julius Malombe to intervene.
Speaking on Saturday in Ukasi where they are camping, the residents said they have been relegated to a demeaning life after the heavily armed bandits drove them out of their homes.
During the Christmas and New Year festivities the bandits, posing as camel and cattle herders, shot dead three people in Ukasi. This triggered an exodus as residents fled their homes.
One was killed in Katangini and two elderly herdsmen shot dead at Yumba Ndei.
Kasiva accused the county government of doing little to alleviate the people’s suffering.
“As the council of elders, we wrote a letter to the governor about this bandit menace. People are now being killed and our land is being taken up by people from Northeastern,” he said.
The residents want Malombe to work with security authorities to restore security.
They also requested urgent relief food, saying they face starvation since they have abandoned their homes and farms.
“We know security is a function of the national government, but our leaders appear less concerned, even after the recent attacks,” said resident Tibitha Nzanzai of Kathungu village.
She said both men and women have abandoned their responsibility of providing for their families to pursue the bandits.
“When a camel is killed or lost, a contingent of armed policemen is always seen around. The officers relentlessly look for the animal until they see it. But when a resident dies, the police say there is no fuel to pursue the killers,” Nzanzai said.
Mwangangi Mutangili said the illegal herders armed with rifles had encroached onto vast land, barring the residents from accessing their farms.
“We cannot tend to our shambas,” said Mutangili.
He accused the police of failing to protect them.
“The government has forgotten us. I have, together with my 12 children, slept on an empty stomach for three days now,” Kamene Muthengi said.
Last August, Eastern regional coordinator Wycliffe Ogolla said the government will not only disarm illegal gunholders, but will expel the herders from Kitui.