NAIROBI: At least 310 people have been killed and over 220,000 fled their homes in attacks in Kenya this year, the United Nations said on Thursday (Friday in Manila), warning of rising conflict.
Cattle rustling and revenge killings between rival communities are common in Kenya’s remote and impoverished northern regions, an area awash with automatic weapons.
But clashes have escalated this year due to harsh drought, as well as tensions sparked by the decentralization of political power, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.
“Violent conflicts involving pastoralists have become widespread and increasingly severe in the northern Rift Valley and north-eastern regions of Kenya,” OCHA said.
“By end October 2014, 310 people had lost their lives, 214 had been injured and 220,177 had fled their homes as a result of inter-communal conflicts attributed to revenge attacks, competition over land and water resources, cattle rustling, and struggles over political representation,” the report added.
The number of displaced is four times that of 2013.
“Displacement figures have sharply increased in 2014 due to increase in number and frequency of droughts leading to resource based clashes,” the UN added.
The report comes two days after the interior minister and police chief were removed from their posts following a fresh massacre carried out by Somalia’s Al-Qaeda affiliated Shebab rebels in the far northeast of the country.
President Uhuru Kenyatta called the Shebab “deranged animals” and said they had killed more than 800 people in attacks inside Kenya, including 500 civilians and 300 security officers.
The Shebab said in a statement their latest cross-border attack was fresh retaliation for Kenya’s 2011 invasion and continued presence in Somalia, as well as its treatment of Muslims in the troubled port city of Mombasa.