March for peace in north­east Kenya

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

More than 1,000 young men and women from north­east Kenya be­gan a 800-kilo­me­ter (500-mile) peace march this week­end against ram­pant in­se­cu­rity and ter­ror­ism in the re­gion.

The “Walk of Hope” from Garissa, where gun­men killed close to 150 peo­ple in April, to Man­dera, where mil­i­tants launch regular raids and am­bushes, is de­signed to draw at­ten­tion to the fre­quent ter­ror­ist at­tacks launched by the She­bab, a So­mali-led alQaida af­fil­i­ate.

Un­der­scor­ing the area’s dan­ger, She­bab gun­men were blamed for a fresh attack on Satur­day evening just hours af­ter the peace march be­gan. There were no ca­su­al­ties re­ported in the raid on Bulla-Golol vil­lage, near Garissa.

“Se­cu­rity is not only the work of gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and se­cu­rity agen­cies, it is the role of ev­ery pa­tri­otic Kenyan,” said lo­cal gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial Stephen Orindi as the march, ex­pected to take about 30 days, be­gan.

It comes af­ter 142 stu­dents and six se­cu­rity of­fi­cers were killed at Garissa Uni­ver­sity on April 2, lead­ing to the col­lapse of ed­u­ca­tion, health ser­vices and the con­struc­tion in­dus­try as fear­ful non-lo­cals flee the re­gion.

In the uni­ver­sity massacre and other re­cent ter­ror­ist at­tacks lo­cal Mus­lims have been spared while Chris­tians, of­ten from other parts of the coun­try, have been tar­geted by the gun­men.

Dozens of public el­e­men­tary and high schools did not re­open for the start of the new term in May af­ter 1,000 teach­ers re­fused to work cit­ing se­cu­rity fears. Ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cial Noor Ibrahim said a quar­ter of Garissa county’s 178 el­e­men­tary schools were closed.

The re­gion’s only med­i­cal col­lege, in Garissa town, has also shut, with its 200 stu­dents trans­fer­ring to Kenya’s safer south­ern parts.

The peace marchers plan to stop in re­mote, ne­glected vil­lages along the way to talk about the risks of clan con­flict and pro­mote peace­ful co­ex­is­tence.

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