Hundreds displaced in “drought” clashes

At least six people have been killed and hundreds displaced following days of fighting over water and pasture along the Isiolo and Samburu district border as drought-related conflict escalated in northern Kenya.

"We have so far managed to find six bodies but still suspect that more bodies might be lying in the bush," Marius Tum, a senior police superintendent in Isiolo, told IRIN. The bodies were riddled with bullets.

"More attacks were reported last night ... the animals that were too weak to be moved were also shot," Raphael Lekilua, a local Samburu leader, said. The fighting was between Borana and Samburu herders.

The conflict has also led to population displacement. "People have moved away from Kom and Sabarwaiwai, which are the only available grazing areas," Lekilua said. The two areas are reserved for grazing when there is a drought.

The livestock will die if the government does not help [those who have fled] return, he said, adding that at least 200 Samburu families have fled.

"The fighting is a struggle over water and pasture, nothing else. Each group is trying to uproot the other from the area," Ahmed Mohamed, an official of a local NGO, the Nomadic Support and Rehabilitation Programme, told IRIN.

Mohamed said at least 1,000 people had been displaced in Isiolo. "They require urgent assistance to return to the field, which must be shared by all the nomadic pastoralists in the region."

The fighting, he said, was also causing food shortages as livestock milk production had dropped.

Security personnel have been deployed to the affected areas of Kom and Sabarwaiwai.

The northern Kenya region is experiencing severe drought, which has led to an escalation of conflict over scarce resources among the predominantly pastoralist population.

At least 13 people were recently killed in inter-clan clashes over water in the neighbouring region of Mandera.

na/aw/mw