- Led by Garissa governor Nathif Jama and other leaders claimed there is a renewed massive deforestation being carried out by refugees from Dadaab and Liboi subcounties.
- An angry Jama who flew to the area in the company of Dadaab MP Farah Maalim and other leaders is accusing the government of not coming up with alternative sources of fuel for the refugees.
Garissa county leaders have hit out at the government for doing little to protect the environment, which is allegedly being destroyed by refugees.
Led by Garissa governor Nathif Jama and other leaders claimed there is a renewed massive deforestation being carried out by refugees from Dadaab and Liboi subcounties.
An angry Jama who flew to the area in the company of Dadaab MP Farah Maalim and other leaders is accusing the government of not coming up with alternative sources of fuel for the refugees.
“I come here as a very angry man. This is something that is unacceptable. We always knew that the refugees who we welcomed in our midst were cutting trees for their cooking requirements but we never imagined that a day would come when they would cause such massive destruction,” he said.
He said efforts to have the deforestation issue addressed by the national government and UNHCR agencies have not been successful.
“What we are saying is that we expected the national government to help us protect the little forest that we have in our midst because that is their mandate. We expected to have forest rangers, scouts and security officers, unfortunately, that help is not forthcoming,” he said.
Over the weekend, residents of Kulan with the help of Kenya police reservists arrested 96 refugees reportedly from Daadab refugee camps who were caught with indigenous trees.
According to Kula chief senior chief Abdi Dekow, residents and police reservists acted on a tip-off to arrest the refugees.
They were also found with 10 antelopes and five gazelles that they had already slaughtered.
Jama said that he is worried that the incidents are coming up just after the entire world gathered in Nairobi to discuss issues of climate change.
"The whole world is now grappling with climate change and so we cannot have deserts in our own backyards in the shortest time possible,” he said.
“We have never seen destruction of this magnitude, the entire environment within the subcounty has been depleted by the actions of the refugees,” Jama said.
He said that going forward, his administration will employ a number of rangers in Kulan, Liboi, Dadaab and its environs whose mandate will be to protect the environment.
He further disclosed that his administration will embark on creating conservancies and Mazingira parks to make sure the environment is protected for prosperity.
Jama who also launched the Kula environment park where trees will be grown said that the main aim was to have a green belt urging the residents to make growing trees a culture.
On his part, Labasigale ward MCA Mohamed Sheikh accused the refugees of poaching giraffes.
He said there was an active case in his ward where refugees who killed three giraffes were arrested three suspects are currently in custody.
Sheikh who is also the Assembly chair of the committee on environment, climate change and natural resources said that the assembly passed the Environment, Restoration and Livelihood Bill which is supposed to address the environmental challenges.
“We have gaps when it comes to addressing some of these issues. unfortunately, the gaps are coming from the Kenya Forest Service and KWS. They do not have officers on the ground neither do they have established offices here in the refugee complex," he said.
“They operate from Garissa and even when they come to these sides they only spend a day or two and such weighty matters cannot be addressed in such a manner."
Daadab Camp Manager Joseph Nguli promised to take up the deforestation issue with the refugees and the UNHCR organs.
“We cannot allow this to continue. If we do not take immediate action, then this place will become a vast desert,” he said.
He said among the immediate measures that will be taken will be to ensure that the freedom of movement of the refugees into areas where they can cause damage is curtailed.
Garissa remains the largest refugee-hosting county in the country with 360,000 refugees spread in the Hagadera, Ifo and Dagahaley camps.
On average, every single day, not less than seven square Kilometers is degraded.