KENYA: Shadrack Koech, 28: 'The clashes have been terrifying for everyone'

Sunday, April 29, 2007
Shadrack Koech, 28, is a registered community health nurse working at the Kipsigon Health Centre, in Kopsiro division, one of four administrative divisions in the restive western Kenya Mt Elgon district, and has helped numerous people injured in months of fighting over land allocation in the district.

"I have been working at the Kipsigon Health Centre for six months but in the last couple of months I have been attending to victims of the clashes.
"The clashes have been terrifying for everyone. For health workers, the situation is not any better - I think it is worse.

"The injuries to some of the people we treated at the health centre due to the clashes made one of my colleagues flee; up to today he has not returned.

"What we saw was terrifying. There was this man who had multiple cuts on his abdomen and on his skull; part of the brain was out. He died after three days.

"There was also a child, who could not have been older than 10, whose intestines were visible, due to machete cuts. It was horrible. "After I treated these people I went away from the health centre for a couple of days to deal with the shock. I was contemplating never returning. But now I am no longer shocked.

"We are no longer receiving patients with such injuries because the fighting has moved towards other regions. The injured attend other clinics, those that are still operating.

"Also, the number of patients coming to the health centre has reduced; the main work I am doing is immunisation. I also treat a lot of soldiers.

"Unlike most people working in the district I feel safe because currently there is a police presence near the health centre due to the setting-up of a police post to try to deal with the insecurity.

"Because I am neutral [neither a member of the Soy nor the Mosop communities that have clashed over land] nobody has bothered me. But they [those responsible for the attacks] are attacking their own brothers and sisters.

"This is what has kept me here."

"To end the bloodshed, I think the Soy and the Mosop communities should be separated since it has become increasingly difficult for the two to live together. If possible, the government should also increase the number of police posts. Those in positions of leadership should also try to consult the Laibons [traditional and spiritual leaders respected in the communities] to get their point of view regarding the situation and work towards restoring peace."
Source: IRIN