15 September 2012

Kenya: Villagers Refuse to Return Home As Security Forces Comb Tana

Photo: Capital FM
Security forces on patrol: The bodies of two children, aged 15 and 10, were retrieved from a river after they drowned while fleeing security forces (file photo).

Tarassa — Two days after more than 2,000 security forces were deployed to maintain peace in sections of the troubled Tana River region, residents who fled their homes are yet to return.

Instead, more and more residents continued to desert their homes to seek refuge at schools and homes of relatives in far flung areas - in an apparent lack of confidence in the GSU officers deployed there.

"There is no way we will continue staying here even if there are police officers," said Mohammed Shika Shika, a Pokomo resident of Anasa village.

"We want to see the government collecting arms from our Orma neighbours. They are heavily armed and none has been taken away since these [GSU] officers came here," Shika said.

The elderly man was among hundreds of Pokomos who pitched camp at Tarassa primary school.

Some affected families have fled to as far as Malindi and Mombasa - some 250 kilometres away.

His fellow village mate Hassan Dadho said; "We will only have confidence when the government collects arms from our neighbours but as long as they continue patrolling without doing anything, we will not stay here."

Dadho said he lost three relatives in the deadly mayhem which persisted in the region before President Mwai Kibaki ordered a deployment of newly graduated GSU officers there.

But since the officers arrived in the Tana Delta, they have not commenced any disarmament exercise or actual pacification in the villages, although their commander Antony Kamitu announced on Friday that they did not have "time to waste."

"We are urging residents to stop running away when they see us... we have come to assist them. They should work closely with us instead of running away," he said.

The residents from both the Pokomo and Orma communities did not heed to his plea.

On Saturday, the Capital FM News crew met several families from both communities fleeing their homes as others queued for relief supplies provided by Kenya Red Cross volunteers.

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