KENYA: Land feud claims more lives in Mt Elgon district

Monday, October 29, 2007

A simmering feud over land rights in western Kenya's Mt Elgon district was blamed for several killings there in October, as disease spread among those displaced by the unrest.

"At least seven people have been killed in the month of October in the district," Maurice Anyango, Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) relief officer, said on 26 October.

The dead include an area administrator (locally known as a ‘chief’), who was shot dead in his office on 16 October in Kapkaten, in Kopsiro division.

Anyango said the killing prompted several families to flee the area, adding that an estimated 45,000 people were currently displaced in Mt Elgon district.

Seven people were killed on 5 August and another three on 7 August in the Kopsiro area of the district.

The insecurity in the area forced many of the area's secondary school students to sit their national examinations in neighbouring districts.

Meanwhile, KRCS and its partners have continued to deliver food and other aid to the displaced, Anyango said.

"In the last two weeks we were able to reach at least 9,058 people in Mt Elgon and Bungoma [a neighbouring district]," he said.

There were increased cases of typhoid, malaria, diarrhoea and skin infections among the people in the Cheptais, Kaptama and Chepkitale areas, a volunteer with the KRCS division of health and sanitation, Daniel Lagat, said.

At least 180 people have died in the area since fighting broke out in December 2006 following inter-clan disputes between the Soy and the Mosop communities over land allocation in the Chebyuk settlement scheme.

The first killings in the area took place in August 2006 with the Sabaot Land Defence Force - formed after claims of injustice over land allocation - being blamed for most of the violence.

Source: IRIN