Kenyan Tana Delta Massacres

Written by Kevin Dunne

Laying south of Somalia on Africa’s east coast is the country of Kenya, and it has recently become the scene of increasing violence. More than one hundred Kenyans in the Tana Delta region have been ruthlessly massacred by a large group of raiders. The BBC reports that, “The killings have left more than 100 people dead on both sides. Thousands have been forced to flee their villages, living in makeshift shelters or on the outskirts of the larger towns.” The first attack occurred over a month ago and has since then escalated into a terrifying crisis.

The two groups involved in the fighting are the Pokomo and the Orma. The Pokomo are farmers and the Orma are cattle herders and they are disputing over land and water.  The two tribes have clashed in the past with relative peace, but tensions seemed to have finally spiraled out of control. Sadly, none have been spared in the attacks: livestock, homes, men, women, and children. The raiders have been reportedly well organized and “militia-like” in their assaults, systematically carrying out raids and using highly illegal weapons. Many suspect the weapons came from Somalia, a country that is an area of high trafficking.

The Kenyan government has stepped in and placed about 1,800 paramilitary troops in the area. This measure has been successful, halting many major attacks and retaliation attempts on both sides. Many are chastising the Kenyan government for the delayed reaction. Some are even blaming politicians for the surge of violence and, in a country that has an election around the corner, the statement may hold a grain of truth. The BBC also reports this suspicion, saying, “Investors, both Kenyan and foreign, have been acquiring leases on vast tracts of land in the region for the purposes of large-scale cultivation of food and biofuel crops. Getting elected to office can mean gaining control of such lucrative deals.” Investors have a great deal of political influence in Kenya. Hopefully a peaceful resolution can be reached and the violence will subside, but in a country with a past history of corruption and indifference, the future is uncertain.