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Starving Baringo banditry victims appeal for food aid

More than 800 families live in dilapidated and congested camps in volatile villages.

In Summary

• The families also fled their homes in Ng’aratuko, Kagir, Yatya, Chemoe, Barketiew and Kosile villages. 

• In the same camp is 25-year old mother Elima Kiptoon, who delivered in the bush last Wednesday.

Banditry attack victims in Ng’aratuko, Baringo North on Sunday.
Banditry attack victims in Ng’aratuko, Baringo North on Sunday.
Image: JOSEPH KANGOGO

"We are dying from hunger."

These were the words of starving Baringo residents. More than 800 families live in dilapidated and congested camps in volatile villages, a situation that exposes them to the risk of coronavirus infection. They have appealed for urgent food donations and medicines. 

"We are left in the wilderness of death and no single leader has visited us to listen to our issues,” Monica Kipkechem said on Sunday.

Kipkechem raises her 15 children in a rickety structure in Chepkowel village along the porous border of Baringo North and Tiaty subcounties. They were attacked by armed Pokot bandits and fled their home in Ng’aratuko on April 5.

The families also fled their homes in Ng’aratuko, Kagir, Yatya, Chemoe, Barketiew and Kosile villages. They have camped in the bushy areas of Rormoch, Karimo, Rondinin, Chapin, Barbarchuch, Sibilo, Chebarsiat, Akoroyan and Chepkowel.

"We were told to register our names so we could receive some relief food from the government but it is one month now and we have received nothing,” Kipkechem said.

In the same camp is 25-year old mother Elima Kiptoon, who delivered in the bush on Wednesday. Journalists bumped into her as she fed her baby on wild vegetables. She also has two sons aged three and five. They live in a dilapidated grass-thatched and mudwalled hut.

"I was in the bush collecting some vegetables when I felt labour pains. I fell and collapsed on the ground, that is all I can recall,” she said.

Banditry attack victims in Ng’aratuko, Baringo North on Sunday.
Banditry attack victims in Ng’aratuko, Baringo North on Sunday.
Image: JOSEPH KANGOGO

Her help, Emmy Tonje, said she found her lying on the ground with the newborn and ran back to look for elderly women, who rushed in to cut the umbilical cord and save the lives of the two.  

“She could not go to maternity hospital located in Marigat town — about 50 kilometres away,” Tonje said.

Some metres away from the hut are five people who suffered gunshot wounds during a banditry attack. Isaac Chelalwa, 41, Josephine Tonje and Talaa Lobolei (Kop Chemasai), 64, Enock Rong'uno, 28, and Mzee Barng’eny Chebor, 80, are also crying for help. 

“I can't walk. If I must, then I need support from someone but all my family members, including my nine children, have fled for their lives and left me in the bush alone,” Chelalwa said.

He urged the government and well-wishers to provide them with food and medication.

“Due to banditry and Covid-19, I cannot access health facility for my leg’s routine checkup,” Chelalwa said.

“We are hungry... The government would have supplied us with relief food, but we have yet to receive any donation.”

Gunshots are still heard in the area as suspected bandits from neighbouring Tiaty subcounty keep instilling fear to steal livestock.

Reached for comment, the county public health chief officer, Dr Winnie Bore, said she has not received reports of such needy cases in her office.

“If there are such extreme vulnerable cases, then as county medical services we require their personal details so we can reach them with our ambulances and assist free of charge, especially during the existing Covid-19 calamity,” Bore said.

Saimo-Soi MCA Richard Cheserem said he donated 15 sacks of maize and rice for the victims last week. He dismissed claims residents were displaced following attacks, saying all the residents "are in their homes".

Three-year old Pius Kipkechem in Ng’aratuko, Baringo North on Sunday.
Three-year old Pius Kipkechem in Ng’aratuko, Baringo North on Sunday.
Image: JOSEPH KANGOGO

Loruk assistant chief Samuel Kamuren said he diverted the little food donation he got to feed flood victims.

“I took maize and beans to feed the seriously affected families displaced by the floods after Lake Baringo burst its banks and people’s homes were submerged,” he said.

The victims said despite being breadwinners of their families, their current conditions no longer allow then to work. They appealed to the government to guarantee their safety and restore calm so they can go back to their normal lives and tend to their crops and livestock.

 

(Edited by F'Orieny)