Misery of broken families as evicted Maasai take cover

Ephraim Kaura, 64. He was assaulted by military troops for questioning the evictions. [Jacinta Mutura, Standard]

With a red shuka covering his sickly body, Kaura struggles to walk unassisted due to unbearable pain on his right knee.

The retired teacher was ferried to safety in Narok by his son after the security officers pierced his right leg with a gun spear.

"I begged them not to kill me. I didn't know what hit me severally. What sin did I commit to be beaten by the police?" said the elderly man, weighed down by emotions.

The father of 28 children is now seeking asylum in random homes wherever he is received. He relies on well-wishers for food, clothes and money to purchase medication.

Meanwhile, United Nations (UN) human rights experts have called out the Tanzanian government for the continuous encroachment on traditional Maasai land without consultations with indigenous people during decision making and planning.

"We are concerned at Tanzania's plans to displace close to 150,000 Maasai from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Loliondo without their free, prior and informed consent, as required under international human rights law and standards. This will cause irreparable harm, and could amount to dispossession, forced eviction and arbitrary displacement prohibited under international law," the UN experts warned in a statement.

They further asked the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee (WHC) to reiterate to the Government of Tanzania that plans concerning the Ngorongoro Conservation Area comply with relevant human rights standards.

Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), Dario Mejia Montalvo, termed the forceful evictions, arrests and use of police force as violation of the human and collective rights of the Maasai people, contrary to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

Some families have, however, given in to the government's order to voluntarily relocate to a reserved location away from Ngorongoro.

The effect of the evictions is now being felt in families accommodating the Tanzanian exiles in Kenya, with majority overstretching their resources to provide food, clothes, shelter and medical treatment.

At Margaret Lukene's manyatta in Narok, four women and their four children are stranded and desperate. They lost their livestock and some of them are nursing bullet wounds.

Norgesheri Negesa at the home of Margaret Lukene where she has been accommodated since June. [Jacinta Mutura, Standard]

"I have been feeding about 20 people in my home for four months now. Our food is depleted. We are relying on well-wishers and churches to donate food. If there is no food, we all sleep hungry," she said.

Women and children who sought treatment at local hospitals in Tanzania were turned away for lack of police abstracts. However, they said that reporting to police would be entrapping themselves.

"Our Kenyan tribesmen have been hospitable. They have been patient with us although we have overstretched their resources. We did not have anything but they have been kind to us," said Norgesheri Negesa, one of the women hosted at Lukene's Manyatta.

At Enkitoria dispensary, nurse-in-charge Juma ole Sampuerrap said the facility has attended to about 138 patients, 18 among them being cases of bullet wounds and deep cuts.

He said women and children who spent cold nights in the forest developed severe pneumonia.

"We treated them and luckily no child died of pneumonia. The adults are recuperating in the manyattas. We didn't charge them for the treatment and those who feared returning home were accommodated in the villages," he added.