Kenya: Forest Evictees Back As State Threatens to Throw Them

Nairobi — The Government will next week evict people who have returned to Mau forest, four months after some 10,200 settlers were kicked out.

Narok DC Hassan Farah said yesterday the Government was aware some people are trooping back to the controversial forest and have already started cultivation.

He said the area was a catchment area, adding that only those with cases pending in court would be allowed to stay in their farms pending judgement.

He spoke as conservationists led by Friends of Mau Conservation Trust protested the move by settlers to access the forest, saying if they were allowed to go back, the catchment area would be destroyed.

FMCT chairman Jackson Kamuye told The Standard there was a great "trek" back to the forest with people carrying their belongings on donkey backs, lorries and tractors.

He accused the Government of reneging on its earlier promise to protect the forest.

Kamuye said there was need to conserve the forest from encroachment, saying the latest development was going to roll back gains that had been made in conserving it.

The DC said those who have gone back to the forest had allegedly taken advantage of the delay in the naming of the Cabinet and matters pending g in court.

He said the Government was serious about conserving Mau, saying the crops that had already been cultivated would be uprooted by administration police, officers from the Rapid Deployment unit based at the Office of the President and Narok County Council rangers next week.

Farah said the Government was serious about the resettlement of 3155 evictees whose title deeds were certified as genuine the October verification of Mau forest claimants.

The official said the first batch of 282 evictees who were considered poor and vulnerable would receive first priority in the resettlement programme in Nakuru soon.

He urged the rest to be patient as the Government seeks an alternative.

Meanwhile, the victims yesterday alleged that the Government evicted more than 10,000 families living in the forest despite a court order barring it from doing so.

More than 400 families were seen reconstructing their houses on their former farms while others carried their property back to the forest.

The evictees, who have been living in Sogoo, Bureti and Bomet since the exercise in June, said they had suffered for long as they waited for the Government to give them alternative settlement.

A victim, Joseph Kitur said the Narok Country Council with the help of Provincial Administration evicted them though High Court Judge, Phillip Ranley had issued a court order stopping the exercise.

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