Saturday, November 1, 2014

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Kenya: Ethnic Violence in the Tana Delta

A video obtained by Think Africa Press reveals the displacement and devastation from ethnic clashes in the Tana Delta District.
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This video contains graphic images that some viewers may find disturbing.

This video, obtained by Think Africa Press, shows the devastating aftermath of a series of ethnic clashes that began in August 2012 between the Orma and Pokomo tribes in the Tana Delta District in Kenya. The video displays the damage and displacement caused by the violence and features interviews with those directly affected.

The Pokomo are predominantly farmers along the Tana River, and the Orma are mainly a cattle-herding nomadic people. Exacerbated by recent dry weather, there have been numerous clashes between the two groups over access to water and land rights. These ethno-political conflicts have left more than 180 people dead and more than 30,000 displaced. These are the worst ethnic clashes since the post- election violence that erupted in the country in 2007/8.

However, some have suggested that competition over land has been intensified by political and commercial interests, such as the large-scale setting aside of land for commercial use. In the video, one displaced victim of the violence notes: “The rich who want to grab land are usually behind the violence”.

The Kenyan government has set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Tana River clashes, but in the video victims of the violence criticise the government’s lack of action; one woman in a camp for internally-displaced people says, “There is a lot happening yet we have no one helping us”. “I don’t have faith in the Kenyan government”, says another.

The video ends with a resident of the Tana Delta District commenting, “The solution to the Pokomo/Orma dispute is peaceful negotiations”. If such talks do not take place and the government does not intervene, violence is likely to continue, a particularly worrying prospect with elections a matter of weeks away.