Kenya: Insecurity, transport stoppage deepens crisis in northeast town

News and Press Release
Originally published
MANDERA, 23 October 2008 (IRIN) - An upsurge in insecurity in the northeastern region of Mandera has paralysed transport and led to the imposition of a curfew, worsening the situation for residents already affected by floods and extreme food shortages.

"The situation is getting from bad to worse and a curfew has been imposed," Titus Mung'ou, Kenya Red Cross Communication Officer, told IRIN on 22 October.

At least three people were killed, 300 displaced and some 31 houses burned on 21 October in the nearby village of Koromey during attacks by armed raiders. Koromey is located five kilometers from Mandera town.

The clashes involve the Garre and Murule clans who have in the past battled over water points for their livestock. On 16 October the clans fought over land that people displaced by flooding in the town had settled on temporarily.

Some 13 Koromey residents were missing as of the evening of October 22, according to the Red Cross.

"There is urgent need of food and other non-food items such as shelter to the latest victims of clan fighting," the agency said in a statement released 23 October.

"Kenya Red Cross is working with the Government and other NGOs to provide relief assistance to those displaced by the flash floods and the recent clan fighting. Humanitarian assistance is underway after being disrupted by the fighting," the statement added.

A severe food shortage and a sharp rise in prices have been reported in the border town after the only three transport companies serving the area suspended their operations over security concerns.

Mandera, which is experiencing food insecurity, is reliant on food brought in from other parts of the country and border regions. The town borders Ethiopia and Somalia.

Local food trader, Amina Shekh Abdullahi, told IRIN she was stranded with her fresh farm produce in Isiolo, a town in the neighbouring Eastern province. "I fear that all these cabbages, potatoes and carrots that I bought to sell in Mandera will go to waste." Isiolo is located southwest of Mandera.

Hundreds of passengers travelling to the neighbouring towns of Garissa and Wajir have also been left stranded. A bus driver told IRIN that some vehicles had been attacked and two passengers killed.

The government imposed a curfew outlawing population movement and the conducting of business in the town after the killing of at least 20 people in the past month.