KENYA: Gov’t orders Ethiopian asylum-seekers to leave

February 21st, 2007 Print Print Email Email

“I have never been a refugee before,” said Hadija Diba, who gave birth a day before her village was attacked. “We left our country because of fighting. Many people were killed; our neighbours, relatives and friends. I am shocked [at the order] because we shall be killed.”

ISIOLO, 21 February (IRIN) - Ethiopian asylum-seekers, who have been camped near the Kenyan border town of Moyale, have urged the government to rescind an order forcing them to return to Ethiopia, saying they feared for their safety. At least 1,000 people fled their homes along the Kenya-Ethiopia border and headed towards Moyale after a wave of violent conflict that left at least 11 people dead and scores injured on 9 February. Ever since they arrived, the 1,010 asylum-seekers have been camped in the open in Funyanyatta and Kinisa area, without assistance.

“I have never been a refugee before,” said Hadija Diba, who gave birth a day before her village was attacked. “We left our country because of fighting. Many people were killed; our neighbours, relatives and friends. I am shocked [at the order] because we shall be killed.”

Saying she was still in pain after giving birth then having to flee across the border to Kenya, she added: “I am worried and starving even though I am breastfeeding the child.”

Molu Katelo, a Gabra elder at Funyanyatta, said: “Our lives are also important and equal to other people; we should not be forced to die.”

The asylum-seekers were uprooted from their homes after fighting between Borana and Gabra pastoralists at Elbera grazing field in Ethiopia.

The killing of a herder on 19 February in Oda village on the outskirts of Moyale town caused more people to flee, heightening tension between the asylum-seekers and local residents, Molu Shampicha, a trader in the town, said.

But on Tuesday, the Kenyan government ordered them to return home. Moyale district commissioner Victor Okemo and the eastern provincial police officer, Jonathan Koskei, told the Ethiopians they had to leave immediately. “You have until noon tomorrow,” Koskei said.

“The situation is bad, many people are moving away from their homes and grazing fields in Ethiopia because of the fighting,” he said. “More people are leaving their homes in Oda “¦ worried and confused because nobody is assisting them.”

However, the Moyale district officer, Omar Beja, refuted the claims. Beja, who is coordinating the repatriation exercise, said the asylum-seekers were willing to go back and had been assured by the Ethiopian government the situation was calm and they should not be worried.

“We have not received any information to suggest that these people are not willing to go back,” he told IRIN. “Ethiopian official were here [in Moyale] yesterday and assured them that necessary steps have been taken to protect them,” said Beja.

Insisting that the group was preparing to leave, he added: “We have a lorry to ferry them back home and we are looking for one more truck after they requested an extra one.”

Last week, residents of Moyale demonstrated against increasing insecurity, demanding that the state address the problem to enable pastoralists to live without fear along the border.

Pastoralists from Moyale and Marsabit frequently engage in violent conflicts over pasture and water. According to analysts, the conflict demonstrates competition between communities living in arid areas over scarce resources and inter-communal animosity exacerbated by political rivalry.


Kenya expels 1,000 Ethiopian refugees The Standard – By Adow Jubat | 21 Feb 2007
The Government has expelled more than 1, 000 Ethiopian refugees from Moyale District. They had crossed into Kenya following clan fights in their country. The refugees, mostly children and women, were ordered to leave the country by Wednesday noon.

Eastern Provincial Police Officer Mr Jonathan Koskei and the area acting DC, Mr Omar Deja, gave the ultimatum when they addressed the refugees with Ethiopian Government officials on Tuesday.

But as the Government made the directive, more than 200 more Ethiopians were arriving with their livestock. The refugees, who have camped at Kinisa location, about 20km from Moyale town, for the last four days, appealed to the Kenyan Government to rescind the directive.

Khadija Jarso, 45, with her eight-month-old baby strapped on her back, broke down in tears as she pleaded with the Government to allow them refugee status until peace returned in their country.

Khadija, who claimed she had lost her sister and 100 goats during the fights, said she was prepared to starve in the makeshift camp instead of risking her life by returning back to her country.

Hassan Gosu, 54, said his wife had not eaten since she gave birth to a baby boy two days ago.

Journalists who visited the makeshift camp saw several weak and malnourished children.

  1. Ye-Ethiopia lij
    | #1

    May God have mercy on our people and give us leaders that will take care of our poor people!!

  2. shotolay
    | #2

    around borena area from the bigining they never accept woyane that whay borena people discremenate by woyane they sefering antil now borena one of oromo tribe they blive one ethiopia they don,t blive by oromia or racist oromo liders.

  3. daniel
    | #3

    Being poor is not a proble but, being a refugee is the worest thing. can you imagin our people told to leave kenya by wenesday noon. from where kenya? what a sad story. it make me so angry and sad to hear this. we ethiopian have a beautifull country we don’t need to go anyhwhere all we need is a good governor. don’t give up my people we all go back soon and every thing is going to be very fine.

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