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Moyale conflict heightens as elders call for peace

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“ We want peace,” that was the message from both the Borana and Garba elders when the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) team from the Eastern Region, KRCS Moyale Branch and the Headquarters in Nairobi, led by the KRCS Secretary General, Abbas Gullet, toured the area for assessment of the impact of the conflict and a reconciliatory message for both the Gabra and the Borana elders. Despite heightened tension, the KRCS team was able to visit the distructed villages and to speak to elders from both sides.Cattle raids and counter raids and inter-clan conflicts between the order of the day between the Boran and the Gabra From November 2011.

The most affected villages include Illadu, Kinisa, Mansile, Odha, Heilu, Arosa, Funan Nyata Butiye and Sessi.There have also been reports of long-standing tensions between the Borana and the Gabra communities of Moyale District since December 2011 with the tensions escalated into a fully flagged conflict from mid January 2012 with the two communities engaging each other in a battle of gun shots, burning down of houses and destruction of property perceived to belong to the rival community. The trigger of the conflict is allegedly competition over positions in the County Government structures as designated in the New Kenyan Constitution, since August 2011 and land-related issues, following a review of boundaries by the IEBC.

During the current and ongoing conflict, KRCS has initiated a thorough assessment process to establish the actual and authentic figures for the affected populations and the kind of humanitarian needs required. The assessment has indicated that as a result of the current situation, at least 60 people from both communities have lost their lives, at least 57 people seriously injured, over 300 houses burnt down and over 5000 families displaced. Other impacts of the conflict in the area include food shortage, high prices of basic commodities, a paralysed transport system, cut off of water supplies following vandalism and insecurity and closure of shops and business premises, thus affecting the overall economy of the area.

The Arosa Dispensary, which was also burnt down, has greatly affected health provision. In general, there is poor supply of drugs to health facilities, thus a risk that may lead to an outbreak of diseases.Education has greatly been affected with schools at least 34 public schools and 14 private ones not having been opened since January 2012 and over 450 teachers having been displaced. Some of the displaced families have crossed over to Ethiopia and others are camping in a nearby field with challenges of basic needs supplies and water and sanitation challenges.Kenya Red Cross Society over the years been involved in community based interventions during times of peace and even conflict.

These interventions have largely included water provision for humans and livestock as well as aspects of livelihood including but not limited to irrigation farming and livestock support, sanitation, health and nutrition, relief and reunification of families, among others. Moyale has been one of the major beneficiaries of such provisions.Following the current conflict, KRCS promptly and efficiently responded to most of the incidences with aim of reducing the human suffering and saving lives of vulnerable populations.

The KRCS response team in Moyale carried out First Aid services for over 50 people and referred 7 seriously injured people to health facilities for further treatment. The team also distribution of Non Food items (NFIs) that included kitchen sets, tarpaulins, blankets, mosquito nets, bars soaps and Collapsible Jerry cans and aqua tabs to at least 204 displaced families. Other interventions were reunification of 7 displaced children with their parents and assisting with sending out of at least 28 Red Cross messages in establishing contacts.

Here are challenges related to water, sanitation, health and food that need to be addressed urgently. Further, most of the displaced people lost all their household belongings and houses to fire and will need assistance in rebuilding and settling back to their normal lives.