Kenya: Mt. Elgon crisis affects 66,000 people

According to the Kenya Red Cross Society, a total of 66,000 people (11,000 families) have been affected as a result of land clashes in Mt. Elgon, along the Kenya-Uganda border, that erupted in December 2006. The current death toll from the clashes is 202. That is 148 due to shooting and panga cuts, 36 people, mostly children, died of malnutrition, while 18 people have died due to diseases such as pneumonia, malaria, and upper respiratory infections etc, attributed to the cold weather.

A number of people continue to nurse bullet wounds, panga cuts and burns in Bungoma and Mt. Elgon hospitals. Most residents have been left extremely vulnerable their houses have been burned, food stocks destroyed and their livestock and livelihood threatened. Some of the IDPs have sought refuge in Kapsokwony and Kaptama divisions within the district and in the neighbouring districts of Bungoma, Teso and Busia. Chwele, Lwandanyi and Malakisi divisions of Bungoma district and Tamulega division in Teso District are also hosting the IDPs.

The most adversely affected areas in Bungoma District are Chwele, Malakisi, Mayanja, Tamlega, Sirisia, Lwandanyi, Tulienge, Machakha and Changara. In Mt. Elgon District, the affected areas are Cheptais, Tuikut, Kopsiro, Cheskaki, Kimabole, Kaptama, Kapsokwony and Chebyuk. The land clashes are concentrated in Kapsokwony, Tuikut and Kopsiro areas of Mt. Elgon.

The situation on the ground has been changing daily with more displacements being recorded regularly. Security forces have been deployed to stabilise the situation. The IDPs are living mainly in market centres with their kinsmen or with relatives in nearby locations. Some have sought shelter in churches, schools, mosques and government institutions. Chances of families going back to their original homes are slim because of insecurity and destruction.

There are no current reports of unaccompanied minors, that is, children below 17 years old living alone, as the affected communities have adopted the children who are separated from their families. There is therefore a need to trace and re-unite the missing family members. There are reports that over 6,000 people have fled to neighbouring districts like Trans Nzoia and Bungoma, as well as Uganda