Months after attacks, ghosts of insecurity still haunt villagers

(Photo: Courtesy)

The screams of pain and anguish of people dying, children included are still fresh in the mind of 45-year-old Keriambu Nasaru.

As she sits outside her torn tent in Eldume IDP camp in Marigat, Baringo County, her tears flow freely as she remembers the happenings of February this year.

Series of attacks by bandits led to the deaths of more than 15 people, leaving permanent scars in the hearts of many.

The memories, still fresh in her mind, months after the horrible nightmare that took away the peace and happiness of Mukutanii’s residents.

“I still remember the happenings of that day. People were sprayed with bullets and killed like chicken.

“The bandits from Pokot were merciless and kept chanting as they killed our children and drove away our cattle,” Nasaru says.

“Sometimes I hear gunshots in my head. I often fail to sleep when I remember what I saw. It is sad.”

Mukutanii was the most affected area during the banditry attacks.

Residents had to abandon the place they had called home for years, and are not sure of the time they would return. They were ferried in lorries escorted by armed police officers to safe camps.

“We were forced to leave when the situation became worse. After several kilometres, we were dumped in this place because we did not have any other place to go. That marked the beginning of our suffering,” she says.

Misery has become the norm for the affected communities, with children dropping out of school. Hundreds of families in the affected areas are staring at hunger after most of their cattle and goats were stolen by bandits.

“Our family was stable until that day. They took away our cows, goats and camels and only left behind those that were weak and could not produce milk,” says Cheptete Chemutwo, a resident of Chemng’eret village in Tiaty.

The mother of three says she cannot afford a meal for her children who are growing weaker each passing day and are susceptible to diseases.

“The cattle were our source of food. Ever since they were stolen, we do not have food for our children; I am scared they might die due to hunger,” she says.

One meal

In Eldume camp, residents have adopted to surviving on one meal a day.

The meal is mostly served in the evening.

“We only have one meal a day. That is what we can afford and we cannot avoid hunger that causes our children and mothers to suffer, says Joaness Olechurai, a resident at the camp.

According to Olechurai, most residents abandoned their farms when they fled.

“We used to plant food for our families. That was cut short when we were evicted from our land and the bandits took over,” he says.

Despite assurance by security officers that calm has been restored, the affected people are not ready to return to their homes.

The occurrences that have caused them sleepless nights for more than 10 months have left them fearing for their lives.

On Sunday, one person was killed in a suspected retaliatory attack at Ameiyan, and the previous week, bandits attacked a police vehicle in Kasarani, Kapedo area and injured nine officers and killed three.

“I do not think we are ready to go back home. It is better we stay here where we are hungry but our children are safe,” Olechurai says.

Rift Valley Regional Coordinator, Wanyama Musiambo says that an operation to restore calm in the affected areas of Baringo is ongoing.

“Officers are on the ground. They are well equipped to deal with insecurity in the affected areas,” says Musiambo.