27 January 2006

Kenya: States Evicts 4,000 Squatters From Forest

Nairobi — The Government has evicted more than 4,000 squatters from Eburru forest in Naivasha.

A combination of Administration Police officers, regular police officers and more than 200 hired youths descended on residents of the forest and demolished their structures.

The demolition squad, led by Naivasha DO Kaunda Maikara, caught the squatters unawares. The forest was engulfed in smoke as the team torched houses during the daylong exercise.

During the operation, marked by emotional scenes of women wailing, over 300 structures were flattened leaving the squatters homeless.

Undeterred by wailing women and children, the youths demolished the houses while police kept vigil. The squatters said they had lost property worth hundreds of thousands of shillings.

They protested bitterly. "They brought in armed youths to evict us while security forces stood at a distance, supervising the exercise," David Mbuthia, one of the squatters, said. Mbuthia, who said he had lived in the forest for three years, claimed the Government had assured them that the eviction would not proceed on.

Nakuru DC, Paul Olando, said the Government would not allow squatters to occupy a vital water catchment area. See picture Page 7.

He said several streams had dried up due to logging and human activities in the forest.

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