11 April 2014

Kenya: 15 Sengwer Held in Embobut Forest

Fifteen people have been arrested for sneaking back into Embobut Forest in Elgeyo Marakwet county. Last year, about 15,000 members of the Sengwer community were evicted from the forest.

Speaking to the Star on the phone Wednesday, Kenya Forest Service zonal manager Alfred Nyaswabu said those arrested were living in caves and other areas of the forests.

"We will not allow anyone back into the forest which is now being reclaimed," he said.

However, some members of the Sengwer community have vowed to go back to the forest, which they say is their ancestral home.

KFS is using a helicopter to survey the forest and ensure no one is living in it. The government will fence off part of Embobut Forest in Elgeyo Marakwet county.

The fencing is part of the Sh7 billion budgeted to increase Kenya's forest cover through enhanced tree planting activities.

Speaking in Eldoret town, Kenya Forest Service chairman Peter Kirigua said fencing will stop further encroachment or destruction of the forest that is a key water tower.

"We have secured the forest by removing the residents but we will take more measures to protect it from future encroachment," he said.

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