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State beefs up security in volatile Turkana-West Pokot border

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According to the administrators, the proliferation of illegal firearms, competition over natural resources, and political intrigues are among the drivers of the conflicts.

Turkana South Deputy County Commissioner Gideon Ombongi and his Pokot Central counterpart Jeremiah Koech Tumo have assured residents of the two areas that the government is committed to restoring peace within the conflict-prone Aroo-Pokot Central corridor.

The senior administrators said that besides the deployment of police officers to undertake surveillance of the border area, the security teams from Turkana and West Pokot were working closely to trace criminals and recover stolen animals.

Conflict between communities in both counties, especially along the border, has resulted in the loss of many lives, massive livestock theft, and the displacement of people from their homes.

"We have also activated community policing so that the residents collaborate with the security officers in peace initiatives and reduce crime by sharing information on criminals' hideouts," Ombongi said on Saturday, assuring swift response to insecurity incidents.

Koech, conversely, cited a multisectoral approach to addressing conflicts, which helps in building synergies among various stakeholders as part of the interventions that were bearing fruit.

"I appeal to those with illegal guns to hand them over to the state because our police officers are well equipped to protect every Kenyan and their properties," he said.

Participants during a peace meeting that brought together actors from Turkana and West Pokot counties over the conflict-prone Aroo-Pokot Central corridor in July 2024. (Photo/Courtesy)Participants during a peace meeting that brought together actors from Turkana and West Pokot counties over the conflict-prone Aroo-Pokot Central corridor in July 2024. (Photo/Courtesy)

According to the administrators, the proliferation of illegal firearms, competition over natural resources, and political intrigues are among the drivers of the conflicts.

The duo spoke during a two-day meeting supported by the Frontier Counties Development Council (FCDC) that brought together peace actors from the two counties, seeking to find a lasting solution to the insecurity menace within the corridor. The meeting was organised on Friday and Saturday last week.

Participants at the meeting, attended by women, youth, religious leaders, lobby groups, and chiefs, said it was sad that despite heavy police presence, the area continued to face violence characterised by killings, raids, and torching of schools.

West Pokot Peace Chief Officer David Chepeleon said failure by the security organs to recover all stolen livestock could spark further conflicts as local communities may feel discriminated against.

A proposal for regular peace meetings to track progress made in the ongoing efforts and address existing gaps, as well as the introduction of a joint peace caravan within hotspot areas in Turkana, West Pokot, and Baringo, was suggested at the meeting.

Kainuk, Orwa, and Sarmach were listed among the areas where security should also be beefed up.

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