Lamu: The unfolding of a crisis

What started as an ordinary crime to the unsuspecting mind . . .

edwin kuria  edwinkuria  on Twitter3

. . . quickly turned into a disaster. A situation was unfolding right in front of us, and in seconds social media went ablaze.

I was tracking it all, silently hoping that security personnel would arrive quickly enough to stop the madness. But that took a long while, on a long and agonizing night.

Mpeketoni distress call

Mpeketoni calls

Too numb to call any of my friends, I made a chain of incoherent uncoordinated prayers, already shaken to do much else. Yet journalists were yet to unwrap the horror that residents went through, and they did a few days later:

Larry Madowo  LarryMadowo  on Twitter

Larry Madowo  LarryMadowo  on Twitter2

Despite heavy deployment of security personnel, the armed bands of about 50 men have continued to prowl on more defenseless men executing them in cruel fashion. Today marks day 40 of an unending scene of real life horror. The impact is massive.

I witnessed it a week ago, when World Concern set up camp to assess and assist hundreds of displaced people. Even though some humanitarian organizations have exited the area, it is time to respond! Residents need help now. We cannot sit and wait when lives of people less fortunate than us are at risk.

For me, this is a chance to respond to the likes of Boniface who cried out on that night. It is a priceless opportunity to assist families who have lost their fathers, and all they care about.

edwin kuria  edwinkuria  on Twitter

I interviewed Catherine, a young mother who bore a beautiful baby on the fateful June 15th. She bore her right at home, because she couldn’t dare to step out. But she named her Mapenzi. Now Catherine is doing all she can to feed and keep her baby, warm; but it’s not easy.

I spoke also to elderly farmers who left their animals caged more than a fortnight ago, but they have not returned to their farms since. Now they roam around town centres like paupers, some dressed in the same clothes they were in, that night. You have limited options when all you escaped with was your life.

They live in fear. At night, about 3,000 men, women and children seek refuge inside a prison. Imagine that. . . Here, they sleep on cold cement floor each night, or out in the open. On some nights rain falls, but the halls are too full to occupy anymore. In fact, rain pours into the hall through the dilapidated roof.

Roof - Hindi Prison

Arriving-for-the-night-Hindi-Prison
A family arrives early for another night at the previously unused hall at Hindi Prison
Preparing-for-the-night-Hindi-Prison
Early arrivals book their families’ space for the night

What now?
In the next few posts, I will share some of these stories with you. Real life experiences of brave men, women and children who are doing all they can to survive. They are trying. But they desperately need warm clothes, tents, medicine, food-including food supplements for children and psychological support.

Currently, about 5,000 people are seeking refuge in 4 IDP camps: Mzee Kamenya (80 households), Ndeu (86HH), Mzee John Musembi center (38HH) and Hindi Prison (505HH).

World Concern is in Lamu responding to this emergency crisis, and we need your help.

Do you have skills, or life-saving supplies that can support these families in some way? Please get in touch with wconcern@wcdro.org

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The cause of the current crisis in Lamu could be a complex tussle for resources which has manifested itself in the shades of religious intolerance, politics and terrorism – leaving behind a trail of disrupted lives, livelihoods . . . and a thick cloud of tension on what lies ahead.

By Edwin Kuria