, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 25 – The Kenya Red Cross has temporarily suspended services in Rhamu area of Mandera North Sub-County, until the government takes urgent steps to stem insecurity.
Secretary General Abbas Gullet announced the action became necessary after two of their ambulances, were attacked on Sunday night following renewed inter-clan fighting.
The humanitarian agency said it is not willing to resume it services until it got assurances on the full access of emergency teams to assist the affected by the national, county government and other agencies.
“I cannot, I will not and I shall not risk the lives of ordinary men and women who are staff of the KRCS. Yesterday was a warning, this afternoon was a second warning, you don’t wait for the third shot to be fired at you to realise we have a problem here,” Gullet told a news conference in Nairobi on Monday.
The aid agency had deployed seven ambulances after the Mandera County Government contracted its ambulance services arm, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in May to provide pre-hospital care because of the vastness and difficult terrain of the county.
Suspension of the service came after an attack on Sunday night targeting one of its ambulances near Issack Kora village about 15 kilometres from Rhamu Town.
The attack left one of its crew members with bullet wounds on the leg and a totally damaged ‘Basic Life Support Ambulance’.
The second crew member was not injured. The duo was forced to seek refuge in a nearby bush before police officers rescued them in the wee hours of Monday morning.
Another ambulance which had been relocated from a neighbouring sub-county was also damaged on Monday afternoon after three of its wheels were punctured by nails which had been planted on the road rendering it unusable.
The humanitarian agency chief confirmed that at least 43 people had been injured in the latest flare-up.
Gullet says the violence is politically instigated and has left over 100,000 internally displaced people since it began in May this year.
President Uhuru Kenyatta met political and sectoral leaders from Mandera and Wajir in June and warned that the national government would use force if peace was not restored between the warring Garreh and Degodia clans in Mandera County.
The President also warned that the government would take stern action against those fuelling hostilities between communities in Mandera and Wajir counties.
Gullet feels the time has come for the President make true his ultimatum adding that the killings of innocent children, women and the elderly cannot be tolerated.
“My plea is to the Head of State who is fully aware of this situation. He has met the leaders of these two communities and he had given them his own ultimatum that they either put their house in order or he will be forced to go in. The problem would be if the government goes in with the full force of the law, people will start crying that we are now being beaten by the police or the military (but) there is no two ways to this,” Gullet said.
The KRCS boss also blamed security chiefs in Mandera and Wajir who he claims have failed to take action that will help in containing acts of breach of peace.
“Its not a secret, these are militias; these are men who are fully armed, trained and at sometimes wear uniform and go totally unobstructed to do what they want to do. There is always intelligence about what is going to happen, when, where and who,” Gullet stressed.