Cattle raids resurface along the Kenya-Uganda border threatening a 15-year-old peace accord

Fresh cattle raids have resurfaced along the Kenya –Uganda border threatening to tear apart a 15 year old peace accord between the warring communities of Sebei,Karamojong and Pokots.

The region has enjoyed relative peace for close to 20 years.

The raids had been tamed through a disarmament programme between 2001 and 2010 that saw the Ugandan government recover more than 40,000 guns.

However, lately the region has suffered a series of cattle raids which local leaders and security agencies say “have intensified this year.
This comes after hundreds of livestock were driven away from Kanyerus area in West Pokot County by suspected bandits from Uganda.

Area leaders who spoke on Sunday in Kacheliba have raised concern over the recent spate of insecurity incidents and want the two Governments to take action and stop the menace.

West Pokot senator Julius Murgor says that headers who follow to pursue stolen livestock have been harassed by administrators and security officers.

“We want the administrators to cooperate and return stolen animals by not harassing headers,” he said.

Rev Murgor noted that the new wave of insecurity along the border of the two countries could affect development and livelihood in the region.

“Cattle theft in the area is being perpetrated by few people. Those who follow their animals fall in conflicts and thieves take advantage of stealing,” he said.

He said that stolen livestock from both communities should be recovered.

“The Pokot, Sebei and Karamojong refuse stolen animals. Even if Sebei livestock are stolen, they should be returned and vice versa,” he said.

The senator called on residents along the border to embrace peace and education and hence take children to schools.

“People who missed out on education are the ones involved in banditry and cattle rustling activities. Residents should also embrace peace. There are few schools with few children in the area,” he said.

Emanuel Kazile, Suam ward MCA, called on the Government to unite the warring communities in the region.

“We need to have a peace meeting between the Uganda and Kenyan communities,” he said.

Riwo ward member of County assembly David Alekulem called on leaders from both sides to intervene on time and stop the insecurity incidents along the border of the two countries.

“We need an early intervention and engagement to stop cattle theft. Let’s preach peace because we don’t want the situation to get out of hand,” he said.

Nominated member of County assembly Brunoh Lomwelo condemned the incidents.

“I call on religious leaders to work with political leaders to work together and bring peace in the region. We need parents to take children to school,” he said.

A resident of Korikwangan said the border should also be resolved.

“The border issue of 1939 should be addressed. Cattle rustling vices have resurfaced because we have been so limited in grazing our animals yet there is no clear border,” he said.

Catholic Kitale Diocese Bishop Henry Juma Odunya called for peaceful coexistence in the region.

“We are working with all stakeholders to promote peace in the region,” he said.

He stressed the importance of residents embracing education.

“Everyone should embrace education as a universal human right,” he said.

Kacheliba MP, Titus Lotee argues that in spite of the MoU being in place, the governments of Uganda and Kenya are not doing enough to respond to poverty and other development needs of the communities which trigger cattle theft.

“Disarmament alone is not enough. Government needs to refocus Pokot towards development and respond to the root cause of these raids. If they don’t respond, the community will lose confidence. The youths need jobs and other services. Without these, they will revert to cattle rustling.” he said.

Renewed cross-border cattle theft is a setback to recent efforts by both Countries, with support from nongovernmental organizations to take the development of pastoralist communities of Karamojong, Sebei in Uganda, and the Turkana and Pokot in Kenya.

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