Minister irked by forest evictions

May 15, 2009 12:00 am

, MARAKWET, Kenya, March 15 – The security operation to flush out squatters in Embobut forest in Marakwet district took a new turn on Thursday when assistant minister Linah Jebii Kilimo clashed with security officers carrying out the exercise.

Mrs Kilimo accused the officers of evicting people who were living in open glades instead of evicting squatters who had invaded the interior parts of the forest.

The Marakwet East MP, in whose constituency the controversial forest is located, hit out at the area provincial administration and forest department for disregarding leaders’ resolutions that the operation exercise should not affect those living in the glades until an alternative land was found for them.

She wondered why the District Commissioner, Joseph Kisangau, had not directed his officers to stop burning houses besides destroying crops of people who had been allocated glades by the colonial government since 1933.

The minister said during the leaders meeting which was held in Kapsowar Township early last month, it was resolved that a security operation be carried out against those who had invaded interior parts of the forests but those living in glades should be spared.

However, the officers who were heading to Maron area were forced to cut short their operation and returned back to Tirap District Officers (DOs) office, the base of the operation after they engaged in confrontation with the minister.

And while speaking at Kakimiti trading centre where she distributed blankets, tents and clothes worth Sh500,000 to families whose houses were burnt, Mrs Kilimo appealed to the government, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and other well-wishers to chip in and help thousands of people who have been rendered homeless after the operation.

“It is particularly wrong for officers to burn food in stores instead of giving time the residents to rescue their properties,” said Mrs Kilimo.

She thanked a group of businessmen and organizations based in Eldoret who have so far donated blankets, tents and other clothes to help the suffering people of Embobut.

Mrs Kilimo noted that many children were suffering from pneumonia and other cold related diseases adding that the area was raining heavily. She appealed for drugs and other medical assistance to the affected families.


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