7 July 2005

Kenya: Squatters Flee Mau As Evictions Resume

Nairobi — Squatters continued to flee Nkaroni area of Mau yesterday in the latest eviction in the catchment area.

This comes barely two weeks after it the evictions were temporarily stopped for unexplained reasons.

Security personnel including APs, Rapid Deployment Unit and Narok County Council rangers started pulling down structures in the morning forcing residents to flee to Sogoo, Mulot, Tendwet and Ole Mekenyu trading centres. By yesterday afternoon, only smoke from charred remains of the houses could be seen.

The eviction has raised protests from Narok South leaders.

Area councillors led by Kipkose Rotich of Sogoo ward described the eviction as a violation of law because it contravenes a court order stopping the exercise.

They claimed Nkaroni area was formerly a group ranch.

"The Government should call off the exercise because some areas where people are being kicked out were adjudicated many years ago," they said.

Earlier, security personnel prevented evictees from accessing their former farms to harvest.

Meanwhile, two relief agencies continued to aid the victims.

Unicef donated 3,000 exercise books, pens and other learning equipment, while the Red Cross Society gave blankets and utensils.

Narok DC Hassan Farah said the Government has donated Sh800,000 to schools.

He appealed for more assistance.

Elsewhere in the North Rift, residents have vowed to resist planned eviction of squatters from two forests in Uasin-Gishu District.

Led by former Kenya Co-operative Creameries (KCC) Director Wilson Kipkazi, former international athlete Julius Kitur and an Eldoret-based land surveyor Eliud Yego, they said no person would be moved.

"What has happened in Mau will not be extended here. The Government should not make its own people live like refugees," Kipkazi told a press conference in Eldoret.

They claimed there were plans to evict people from the Ndugulu and Turbo forests in Eldoret South and Eldoret North constituencies of Uasin-Gishu District.

The Government, they said, had legally allocated the two forests to more than 5,000 families.

Narc Government was told to respect allocations done by Kanu to avoid similar revocations by subsequent governments.

"Land ownership is a sensitive matter," the said.

The speakers gave Kimunya 14 days to cancel the planned evictions or brace himself for a major showdown.

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