Bishop Crowley calls for dialogue among North Rift leaders over insecurity in Kerio Valley

Kitale Catholic Diocese Bishop Maurice Crowley (center)

Kitale Catholic Diocese Bishop Maurice Crowley (center) with Fathers at Chepnyal Catholic Church in West Pokot County on October 2, 2022.

Photo credit: Oscar Kakai | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Bishop Crowley says poor development in the region is to blame for the insecurity
  • He urged the government to open up safe roads, particularly the Arror-Marich one, and set up more security camps
  • The Catholic Bishop has cautioned government against assigning inexperienced security officers who are not conversant with the terrain in the region

Bishop Maurice Crowley of the Kitale Catholic Diocese has called for dialogue among leaders from warring communities in the North Rift region to tame insecurity.

More than 150 people have been killed and hundreds of livestock stolen in the troubled region in the past one year.

In the latest incident, 11 people, among them eight police officers, a local chief and two civilians, were brutally killed by bandits in Turkana East last week.

Bishop Crowley says poor development in the region is to blame for the insecurity.

“The roads are bad, there are few schools and very few and completely no social amenities in some areas,” he said, urging elders and local leaders to work together with the church to promote education.

“Education is the only solution that will end guns in the region. Leaders should work together.”

Address root cause

He challenged the government to focus on the root cause of banditry in the Kerio Valley, saying the current operation won’t offer a lasting solution.

He spoke on Sunday after a farewell mass for Sister Anita in Chepnyal, calling on leaders in the North Rift to hold peace meetings.

“We want residents in the Kerio Valley area to embrace peace and leaders should spearhead dialogue. Leaders should talk to residents to maintain peace,” Bishop Crowley said.

He added that the government needs to open up safe roads, particularly the Arror-Marich one, and set up more security camps.

Inexperienced security officers

He faulted the government for deploying young, inexperienced security officers to work in insecurity-prone areas.

“They should assign experienced security officers who are well conversant with the terrain in the region,” he said.

He cautioned against blanket condemnation, and pointing fingers at West Pokot residents as perpetrators of insecurity.

“Not everyone in West Pokot is a bandit. People should stop branding the people of West Pokot as bandits. Some people in West Pokot have embraced peace and some area members of Parliament are doing a great job in preaching peace,” he said.

Leaders meeting with DP

Kapenguria MP Samuel Moroto, who attended the mass, said leaders from the region recently met Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and agreed to find a way of ending the wrangles.

“The government is coming to the ground. The DP will soon bring together the leaders and the church should cooperate,” he said.

He lauded the church for its efforts to set up schools in the region.

“The church has helped to put up many schools in this region. The government only started building schools recently,” Mr Moroto said.

Church and government

The MP said the church and government should work together to develop the region.

“There is no road in Tiaty and Turkana. Roads and electricity in Baringo were put in one community alone. They stopped at Loruk. Schools and an AIC church are not in Tiaty. It forced people from West Pokot to take the church there.” he said.

He accused former leaders and administrations of marginalising the area.

“We want current leaders in Baringo to rectify the mess. We had conflict in the Turkwel belt, but religious groups set up a school in Turkwel and peace is prevailing,” he said. 

“If the chairman is a Pokot, his deputy is Turkana. There has been peace along the Kenya-Uganda border and the Trans Nzoia and West Pokot border since [Ugandan President Yoweri] Museveni came to power. 

“There are no gun sounds. Kainuk is peaceful but a few people from Tiaty and other areas in Turkana attack residents because they were forgotten.”

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