Turkana herders return home as leaders warn over Uganda hostility

Lomorukai spoke today as he received over 30,000 returnees in Loima sub-county.

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, through an executive order, directed Turkana pastoralists out of Uganda following the killing of top geologists and their bodyguards.

In an executive order dated May 19, 2023, Museveni said he had given the Turkana population in Uganda six months to return all the cattle they have allegedly stolen within Karamoja around the Kobebe dam.

"I give the Turkana population, 6 months to implement my directives. If, however, the issue of the guns illegally entering Uganda, the hand-over of the criminals who killed our Geologists, or the use of traditional justice and return of the stolen cattle, are not resolved, I will have no alternative but to expel all the Kenyan Turkanas and their cattle and they will never be allowed to re-enter Uganda with their cattle," read part of the executive order.

This has seen thousands of the pastoralists return home before the lapse of the directive.

Lomorukai said the national and county governments will support Turkana pastoralists returning from Uganda by ensuring they access pasture and water in other areas.

The governor assured the pastoralists that the government was working to resettle families that returned to the country, and urged the communities in Loya and Lokiriama to graze their livestock in Kenya to avoid persecution, which had forced them out of Uganda.

Some of the Turkana herders who have returned from Uganda listen to advice from local leaders. [Bakari Ang'ela, Standard]

"We have not abandoned our brothers in Karamoja, but we are saying you come back to Kenya. It is easier to address your issues in our own land than in Uganda where we have no voice whenever there are issues," he said.

He said a host of Turkana MPs had visited President William Ruto to discuss the plight of residents of Turkana imprisoned in Uganda, adding that Ruto had written to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni appealing for the release of the Kenyans.

"While we await a response to the President's letter, we have sponsored a court case in Uganda to secure the release of our people," he added.

The governor also stated that the leaders had asked President Ruto to undertake water projects in the county to support pastoralists.

"I want to assure you that we will support you wherever you will be in the county," Lomorukai said.

He urged the national government to provide security to the pastoralists as they move around the region grazing their livestock.

"We have kept peace in this region, the Turkana, Pokot of Kenya and Tepes of Uganda are living in peace," said the governor.

"We want this peace to be emulated in other regions, including Baringo and parts of West Pokot. It will be shameful if conflicts continue to deny the region development," he added.

Other local leaders echoed the governor's sentiments, urging for peaceful coexistence and sharing of resources among the pastoralist communities living along the border.

Majority Leader Stephen Edukon Turkwel said the county government was working to invest in social infrastructure to benefit Turkana pastoralists and end the need for them to migrate to Uganda in search of resources.

"I urge the pastoralists to return to the country to avoid Uganda military brutality. It is safe to be in your country than facing persecution in a foreign land," said Lokiriama/Lorengippi MCA Lawrence Lopayo Lopayo.