Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ugandan forces seize cattle from Kenyan herders

Cattle herders who crossed national borders to find green pasture have come into trouble with the Ugandan government. Instead of grass and water they found Ugandan forces seizing the cattle and accusing the headers of committing crimes. Now the families who depend on the cattle for their livelihoods now have to take international aid for food. The prospects of getting the cattle back is next to nothing.

From this Daily Nation article that we found at All Africa writer Dennis Odunga details this tragic story.

There are reports that up to 3,000 Kenyan herders are currently in Uganda with their animals. The pastoralists say the Uganda government is out to harass them, yet they are innocent.

"We can't all be criminals just because animals have been stolen and we happen to be on foreign soil," Mzee Chokaa says through an interpreter, Mr Richard Lokwang'a.

He is talking about a cattle raid in Uganda on January 28 that saw UPDF soldiers round up pastoralists, including some from Kenya, and confiscate their cattle. The Kenyan herders he, says, were ordered back home with nothing.

Herders' families are camping at Napitiro, Kalapat, Orolwo, Kodich, Konyao and Karameri areas in North Pokot District and are relying on relief supplies from the Kenya Red Cross Society, the government and other well-wishers.

Their children cannot go to school, most of which are far away from the camp. Education is no longer a priority as the children must help the families to gather wild fruits, which are their main food.

Their cattle, apart from providing milk, were also a source of meat and blood.

"The harsh climatic conditions in this area at this time force us to cross the border in search of pasture and water," Mr Samson Angirokwang says.

The families say that 14 people are unaccounted for, amid fears that they might have been shot dead during the confrontation with the UPDF soldiers.

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