Kenya appeals to Uganda over Turkana pastoralists

Monday January 16 2017

Spare us. Turkana County Commisioner Steven

Spare us. Turkana County Commisioner Steven Ikua gives his speech in Moroto Town as Moroto District chairman Andrew Napaja looks on last Friday. photo by Steven Ariong 

By Steven Ariong


A delegation from Kenya last Friday held bilateral talks with the Karamoja leadership to try to come up with solutions to restrict Turkana pastoralists from crossing over into the country with illegal arms.

The meeting was convened a week after the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) deployed heavily between Karamoja borders and neighbouring Kenya ahead of a planned operation to flash out Turkana pastoralists grazing their livestock in Karamoja sub-region.

Turkana pastoralists are accused of causing insecurity in the country by defying cross-border rules prohibiting them from crossing into Uganda with firearms.

Mr Steven Ikua, the Turkana County commissioner, who led the Kenya delegation in Moroto District, pleaded with his Ugandan counterparts to remain calm and accommodate Turkana pastoralists as they solve the insecurity problem.

Mr Ikua hailed the Ugandan government for hosting refugees but declared there was a crisis requiring their hand.
He pledged to ensure that the pastoralists observe and respect the laws of the land.

“We are going to institute joint cross-border monitoring forces and share intelligence so that we deal with those who are disobeying the laws of Uganda and Kenya,”he warned.

Mr Geoffrey Kaituko, the speaker of Turkana County Assembly, said flashing out the Turkana in Uganda will escalate the problem as he called for joint cross-border operations to help monitor arms.

“We need to continue dialoging with the two pastoralist communities so that they continue to live in harmony,” he said.

Mr Simon Lomene, the MP for Turkana South, commended the Uganda government for the help extended to the Turkana pastoralist.

He said the Turkana would have lost thousands of livestock due to the drought if it hadn’t been for the help from Uganda.

“We beg you not to send away our Turkana people. Let us work hard to ensure the two pastoralist communities live in peace,” he said.

Mr Peter Ken Lochap, the Moroto Resident District Commissioner, who represented Karamoja leaders said: “We are not against anybody but we are only against armed people so let’s work as a team and sort out those who are armed,” he said.

About the Turkana
The Turkana are Kenya’s second largest pastoralist group and keep crossing into Karamoja region in Uganda in search of water and pasture.

The region is currently host to about 50,000 Turkana pastoralists who entered the country with more than 90,000 livestock following the persistent drought in northwest Kenya.

They are currently grazing in the areas of Kobebe in Moroto, Loyoro, Kamion and Kalapata in Kaabong District.

During Tarehe Sita celebrations in Moroto District in February 2015, President Museveni said Kenyan Turkana and Pokot pastoralists were free to cross into Uganda to graze their animals on condition that they are not armed.

“I have no problem with the Turkana and Pokot pastoralists crossing into Uganda to graze, but they should not dare come with arms,” he said.

The President also said he will not tolerate people with intentions of destabilising the peace achieved in Karamoja sub-region following the disarmament of the Karimojong cattle rustlers.