Students’ Education Interrupted Due to Persecution in Kenya
04/03/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – It is midday and children are making their way into the government settlement camp in Katsaka Kairo, Kenya under the scorching coastal sun. The sweat-covered children are hoping to find a ready meal, though this is not always the case. Poverty has stricken the once successful small-scale farmers of Maleli village, adjacent to the Boni Forest, which is a hideout for scores of Somali-based terrorists linked to al-Qaeda. The forest stretches from Lamu to the southern Somali district of Badaade, making it easier for the jihadist group to move in and out of Kenya.
“We stayed in the IDP camp for a long time, hence missing learning after our school was closed and teachers left due to the rising insecurity and subsequent terrorist attacks. This was interrupted for a year, but now we have joined the school near the new village where the government has settled our parents. We feel strange and backward, but we are making progress,” Charles Kahindi told International Christian Concern (ICC).
Four primary schools in Lamu West, Pandanguo, Kakate, and Maleli were closed in 2017 when terrorists raided villages neighboring the dense forest. They killed 13 people, burned houses and police stations, and vandalized medical centers.
“We were used to our school and our teachers and we were doing very well academically. Living here without a source of income makes life very difficult for my family. Sometimes I go to school without having breakfast and it becomes really hard to concentrate in the class,” said Mercy Ziro, a class 4 pupil at Katsaka Kairo Primary School.
“Living here without a source of income makes life very difficult for my family. Sometimes I go to school without having breakfast and it becomes really hard to concentrate in the class.”
More than 2,000 residents of Maleli are now residing on densely populated government land after being displaced from their homes. These people live here due to the threat posed by militants who have taken over the Boni Forest and have made it a safe haven for terrorists beyond the reach of security forces.
“Although we miss being at home and our school life back in the village, we feel secure because a new police base was opened here to protect us. We also don’t fear to step on improvised explosive devices that al-Shabaab mostly [planted] on roads and pathways to target the police and civilians,” Paul Katam expressed.
Parents have raised concerns, however, to the government about the lack of food, clean water, and sanitation. “We were brought here by the government and left without any compensation to erect new houses and buy food. We have not received aid for a long time and this has forced some of us to go back to the farms in the Boni,” Mr. Nyati Kagholi told ICC.
“We are praying for the government to reinforce security and allow us to go back to rebuild our homes and start farming again. Our freedom of religion and worship has also been violated. We are being persecuted by Muslims who claim to be peaceful people, but they hate the Christian faith,” he added.
There has been relative peace and stability in Lamu for the past year despite a few cases of attacks on border police. However, the residents of Lamu West still live in fear due to religious discrimination and violence that often culminates in the killing of Christians.
For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: email@example.com