KANCHARA/WAJIR-SOUTH, – Habiba Ugas, a mother of five whose husband was killed in violent clashes in the central Kenyan town of Isiolo in April, is one of a number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to have moved 320km further north to Kanchara, near Wajir town. She told IRIN her story.
‘I was born in Burat, a grazing area about 20km from Isiolo town 32 years ago. I have witnessed deadly clashes since my childhood but it got worse 15 years ago.
“Deadly clashes are prevalent. Quite often families are displaced, people are killed. I have survived many attacks, but this time I was among those directly affected.
“The government was unable to prevent the killing of my husband, and the theft of our 31 camels, and declined to respond when a gang of thugs vandalized our house at Kilimani in Isiolo in April.
“It’s painful that instead of being assisted I was interrogated by the police and asked how long my late husband had been a bandit, and asked to surrender his gun.
“The elders from my community convened a meeting and mobilized support from clan members all over the country. Some offered trucks and food, and assisted us to move from Isiolo to Kanchara. I don’t intend to go back to Isiolo. We have been threatened and warned never to go back.
“Life here is too tough. I arrived two weeks ago. This place has no water, no health facility. I had to walk to Habaswein [centre] 20km away yesterday [17 July] to take my youngest son to hospital; it’s tough walking 40km to be treated for coughing.
“The men from my clan have been helping me to collect these sticks. I hope to complete this house in the next four days.
“My four children are in school. One was forced to repeat classes. He was in class six but the school here is only up to class five. My children are having a very difficult time, despite the assistance, which I fear will not last long as our relatives, who are assisting us, are also poor and depend on relief food.
“My children are always sick. The weather is hot, harsh. They were used to bread which is not available here. Two of them are still asking me when their father will come back.
“I am forced to collect firewood, ferry it to Habaswein and sell it so that I can buy sugar, meat and vegetables – you cannot be assisted with everything…
“I hope that the government will compensate me for the loss of my camels and house, a two-roomed timber house.
“I have the experience of doing business and used to sell 20 litres of camel milk daily, I don’t need food hand-outs, I need to be self-reliant, educate my children and lead a comfortable life.”