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Kenya: Sixteen Children Slaughtered In Water Feud

UNICEF Voices Horror At Brutal Slaughter Of 16 Children In Kenyan Water Feud

Appalled by the brutal slaughter of at least 16 children apparently caught up in clan clashes over water in a violence-riven area of northeast Kenya, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has voiced horror at the viciousness of an attack by guns, swords and fire that seemed to specifically target youngsters.

“The shocking reality is that children seem to have been the primary target,” UNICEF Country Representative Heimo Laakkonen said of the attack, which occurred yesterday at El Golicha, a watering point for pastoralists and where members of the Garre clan live, some 10 kilometres from Elwak Town in Mandera District.

The assailants apparently came from a rival clan, the Murule. The two have feuded over access to water for many years. Last time the Murule were apparently the victims of a Garre attack. During the early hours of 15 March, the attackers came to seek revenge, creeping into El Golicha while most of the Garre men were out guarding their livestock.

They attacked the huts where children and women were sleeping, setting some ablaze, and using guns and swords to attack those who tried to flee.

“In the arid lands of Kenya, water means life, yet too often these days it is an excuse for killing and death,” Mr. Laakkonen said.

He noted that this was just one incident in a series that have engulfed communities in many parts of Mandera, and elsewhere in Kenya as well. In Mandera alone, over 20,000 people have been displaced by violence in recent months.

“No one wins in these conflicts. Whole livelihoods are destroyed, families are torn apart and it is always the children who suffer the most,” he said, calling on the authorities to restore order and protect children.

He pleaded with civil society to work with communities like the Garre and the Murule to help build peaceful methods of conflict resolution “so that the children of these clans will have the same rights as most of Kenya’s children, to grow up, go to school, and sleep in peace.”

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