What you need to know:
- There is plenty of pasture because there are no livestock graze.
- The Merille militia has established a permanent village of their own inside the country.
- Early in 2012, the militants attacked an RDU camp and killed two police officers and abducted another.
- Over 3,000 people have fled the village and most of the families are living in a camp at Lowarengak.
Graves and a vandalised Catholic mission greet you when you arrive in Todonyang Village, just a kilometre from the shores of Lake Turkana.
The village is deserted following frequent attacks by a Merille community militia from neighbouring Ethiopia.
Many people have been killed and thousands have fled.
The militants, who have crossed over into Kenya and settled some 10 kilometres inside the country’s border, have made life impossible in the village.
There are no activities going on in Todonyang.
The over 200 graves and vandalised structures are a testimony of how volatile the situation has been in this forgotten village.
There is plenty of pasture because there are no livestock to graze on it. The village is now one massive plain land.
Similarly, there are no activities in the nearby Lake Turkana, known to have plenty of fish.
For a visitor, what strikes you is the vandalised Catholic mission that is punctuated by graves with structures that have almost been swallowed up by overgrown bushes.
MILITIA ESTABLISHES OWN VILLAGE
The Merille militia has established a permanent village of their own inside the country and is enjoying the available resources after forcing locals out.
When the Nation visited the village last Saturday, Mr Francis Ekitela, a resident, recalled vividly the May 2, 2011 attack when he lost 10 relatives out of the 46 people that were killed.
“The attackers launched a well-planned ambush in broad daylight and shot everyone in sight.
“Their mission was to take over the village after forcing everyone out,” said Mr Ekitela as he led the journalists through the graves.
Over 3,000 people have fled the village and most of the families are living in a camp at Lowarengak, 35 kilometres away from their homes.
The IDPs says they are vulnerable because of lack of security.
There are no armed police reservists to fight the over 400 militants, who are said to have sophisticated weapons.
The Merille even created their own boundaries. There is a point beyond which Kenyans cannot go.
“You cannot reach their village and come back alive,” added Mr Ekitela.
The militants have also vandalised Todonyang Primary School, built through the CDF, as well as a fish storage facility that supported the Turkana.
They have stolen some of the iron sheets used to build the facility and have used them on their houses.
The government, in partnership with NGOs, has tried to broker peace and even set up a Rapid Deployment Unit (RDU) police post manned by the Administration Police.
Locals were even told to return.
Mr Ekitela said a family of 13 was among those who came back and he said that was their worst mistake ever, as they were all killed.
“Definitely, the peace missions in August last year failed. It was so painful burying them. We buried them in a mass grave,” Mr Ekitela added.
“I lost my brother and his two children in the May 2011 attack.
“There are those who were killed while fishing or grazing,” said Ibrahim Ewoton, another resident.
Mr Ewoton said in early 2012, the militants attacked an RDU camp and killed two police officers and abducted another.
Mr Ewoton added that following the attack, senior government officials, including then Prime Minister Raila Odinga, flew in to console families as well as witness the aftermath of the brutal attacks. They made promises to boost security, but things have not changed.