Fwd: Terrorism hits education, health in Kenya's marginalized Mandera

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Chifu wa Malindi

Nov 28, 2014, 7:28:15 PM11/28/14
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Terrorism hits education, health in Kenya's marginalized Mandera

NAIROBI, 28 November 2014 (IRIN) - People in northern Kenya's
marginalized Mandera County face a devastating loss of basic services
as teachers, healthcare workers and other state employees face calls
to leave in the wake of a terrorist attack which claimed 28 bus

The victims, who included 24 teachers, were shot in the head on 22
November after being made to lie on the ground. The Somali insurgent
group Al Shabab said it carried out the attack.

In the aftermath of the widely condemned killings, several civil
servants' unions urged their members who are not indigenous to the
larger northern Kenya region to leave until their security could be
guaranteed. [ http://www.un.org/sg/statements/index.asp?nid=8215 ]

"It's a painful scenario to comprehend what has constantly befallen
our members. Many have undergone painful deaths. We don't want to
contemplate what will happen next to them should they continue serving
there," Wilson Sossion, secretary-general of the Kenya National Union
of Teachers (KNUT), told IRIN.

"We have called for better security for our members in the past but
the government has failed to provide it. Now we want all teachers to
move out from insecure regions and relocate to places deemed secure."

According to local media reports, an exodus of civil servants has
already begun on roads leading south. And soon after the attack,
dozens of people gathered with their suitcases at Mandera airstrip,
waiting in vain for a government air lift.

Sossion said teachers had been targeted before. "We have witnessed
cases where terrorists, [who] move from house to house, profile and
target teachers. We want to avoid a similar thing once and for all by
completely moving out from volatile regions. We are not talking of
Mandera alone, but we want them [teachers] to move out from all
insecure regions of the country."

But others think this is wrong-headed.

"If you leave," public service chief Joseph Kinyua told civil servants
holed up in an army base in Mandera, "it will as appear as if we have
surrendered our sovereignty to Al-Shabaab.

"Withdrawing labour will not help solve the region's security
problem," Francis Atwoli, secretary-general of the Kenyan chapter of
the Central Organisation of Trade Unions told IRIN.

"We are still insisting that the government provides security to
ensure the safety of our workers. It has taken [the government] a lot
of effort to create employment and they should do the same to protect
the jobs by beefing up security. We want a situation where workers can
work in any part of the country.

"Withdrawing will mean that we are defeated and thus falling into the
traps of the enemy. We cannot accept defeat and succumb to their
demands. What happened is unacceptable and we condemn it."

Limited access to education, health care

The northern Kenya region has historically been marginalized by
successive governments, leaving access to basic social services such
as education and healthcare limited. While demand for teachers stands
at 20,000, there are only about 12,000 in the region, according to
KNUT. [ http://www.irinnews.org/in-depth/87469/83/another-kenya-the-humanitarian-cost-of-under-development

UNICEF says about 80 percent of girls in North Eastern Province are
not enrolled in school. [
http://www.unicef.org/kenya/overview_4616.html ]

The doctor-to-patient ratio is 1.0 to 100,000 in the larger northern
Kenya region, according to Fredrick Oluga, a member of the advisory
council at the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists
Union (KMPPDU). Nationally, according to government figures, the ratio
is 1.0 to 20,000. The global recommendation is one doctor for every
1,000 patients.

Indicative of the level of need in northern Kenya is the dependence on
civil servants from other parts of the country.

KMPPDU's Oluga added that there are just 41 doctors in northern Kenya,
forcing them to be on call 24 hours.

"Our members have been attacked while walking to hospital to attend to
emergency cases. In Lamu, for instance, we lost one member, while in
Mandera, a pharmacist was killed. It is a very sad situation where you
don't know what will happen next," he said. [

Meanwhile, some workers have already abandoned medical facilities.
"Our health facilities are the most affected. Elwak, Arabia, Libahie
hospitals, close to the border, have all been deserted by the staff,"
said Ibrahim Ali, an official with the Mandera County public service

Few staff remained at Mandera Referral Hospital, added Ali. "All
units are feeling the pinch. The outpatient department is congested,
diagnosis is a problem in cases where tests are required, and patients
are suffering in the wards too."

Most of those who opt to work in the region are fresh graduates
embarking on their careers. Several newly-graduated teachers were
among those killed in the recent bus attack.

The region is prone to banditry and attacks as well as intercommunal
conflict. The proliferation of weapons, as residents seek to defend
themselves, has worsened the situation. [

Growing insecurity

In the past three years, insecurity in the borderlands, especially in
regions adjacent to Somalia, has taken on a new dimension. Al-Shabab
has been the main perpetrator with deadly attacks, including raids on
police stations, restaurants and churches, and abductions of
government personnel and aid workers.

In North Eastern Province, security officials and businesspeople have
been accused of colluding with Al-Shabab, increasing insecurity. [

Kenya sent its forces into Somalia in October 2011 in a purported bid
to secure its borders and its tourism sector. But critics of the
operation, dubbed Linda Nchi (protect the country), warned that it
could boost popular support for the Islamist insurgents. [

Since then, a spate of deadly attacks claimed by Al-Shabab have been
recorded across the country.

In June, dozens of people were killed in a string of attacks in
Mpeketoni in Lamu County on Kenya's coast. In Mombasa, fears of the
radicalization of increasingly disenchanted youth are on the rise. [
], [ http://www.irinnews.org/report/97982/countering-the-radicalization-of-kenya-s-youth

Recently, the government announced the discovery of a cache of arms,
including grenades and ammunition, in several mosques in Mombasa
leading to their temporary closure. At least 21 Muslim clerics, of
whom 20 were linked by the government to Al-Shabab, have been killed
over the past two years in Mombasa, according to human rights group
Haki Africa. [ http://www.irinnews.org/report/100412/gunned-down-in-mombasa-the-clerics-that-have-died
] .

Resentment due to historical grievances especially over land, has
fuelled the creation of groups such as the Mombasa Republic Council
(MRC), which, according to some analysts, could be an Al-Shabab
sympathizer. [ http://www.irinnews.org/report/96630/briefing-kenya-s-coastal-separatists-menace-or-martyrs

On 22 September 2013, Al-Shabab militants stormed an upmarket shopping
mall in Nairobi where they killed 67 people and injured many others. [

To protest growing insecurity, citizens recently held peaceful
demonstrations outside President Uhuru Kenyatta's office, on Harambee
Avenue in Nairobi. The #OccupyHarambeeAve [
https://twitter.com/hashtag/occupyharambeeAve?src=tren ] hashtag is
still trending on Twitter in Kenya.



This report online: http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?reportID=100891

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