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January 20, 2018

We’re after bandits not illegal settlers in Embobut Forest – state

European Union head of delegation to Kenya Stefano Dejak and Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos in Eldoret on Wednesday January 10, 2018. /STEPHEN RUTTO
European Union head of delegation to Kenya Stefano Dejak and Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos in Eldoret on Wednesday January 10, 2018. /STEPHEN RUTTO

The eviction of illegal settlers from Embobut Forest in Marakwet East is an operation to flush out bandits, a government official has said.

Marakwet East deputy county commissioner Stephen Sangolo said armed cattle rustlers are using the forest as a hideout where they guard stolen livestock. He spoke during a stakeholders meeting organised by the ministry of Environment in Eldoret on Wednesday. Members of the Sengwer community said the evictions aim to remove the indigenous hunter-gatherer group.

The community has moved back to the forest after it was compensated by the state and ordered to move out of the forest in 2014. Sangolo said, “This operation is not geared towards removing a particular community. There is a lot of insecurity in the forest.” He said people moved to the forest following reports the state will compensate communities.

“We are engaging the community so the evictions are done in a humane manner,” Sangolo said. Amnesty International said at least 50 houses have been torched and scores of people hurt in violent evictions by the KFS and the police.

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