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Three schools remain shut in clashes-hit Garbatulla

Learning is yet to resume in three primary schools in Garbatulla, Isiolo County, due to insecurity, which has already claimed three lives in the past one month.

Tension is still high in Rapsu, Escort and Korbesa following a series of clashes between two communities living on the border of Isiolo and Garissa that have seen locals fleeing for safety in Kinna Township.

The delayed reopening of Korbesa, Rapsu and Escort Primary Schools has disrupted learning for more than 70 Grade Four and Standard Eight pupils.

Last month, Isiolo South MP Abdi Koropu’s convey was pelted with stones by area residents when he visited the area to condole with the bereaved families.

They accused the lawmaker of failing to help establish a police station to enhance security in the affected area.

Korbesa Primary School head teacher Abdi Molu asked the government to move with speed and establish a police station or General Service Unit camp so that Standard Eight candidates, who are expected to sit national exams in March next year, can resume learning.

He said raiders from Garissa recently vandalised the school, stole foodstuffs from the store and torched houses in the area, leaving residents homeless.

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“Many pupils have left with their families and we need the learners back in school, especially Standard Eight candidates, who will sit for national exams in March,” said Mr Molu.

Before the schools were closed in mid-March due to the global coronavirus pandemic, two women and a man from the area were abducted by people believed to have come from the neighbouring county.

The school head said insecurity had made many parents to withdraw their children from schools.

Rapsu Irrigation Scheme Chairman Abdi Ali said many farmers had abandoned their farms, leaving them open to wild animals, which he said had destroyed crops.

“If things don’t change, we risky starvation because wild animals will destroy all our crops,” said Mr Ali.

Incessant conflicts

And Kinna Maendeleo ya Wanawake Chairperson Mumina Hussein said the incessant conflicts had resulted in loss of business, livestock and property.

“Many shops have been broken into after people fled,” she said, adding that girls are at risk of being lured into early marriages or pregnancies.

Ms Hussein said they will continue liaising with administrators in tracing all learners by the end of the year.

Garbatulla Deputy County Commissioner Stephen Nyakundi, however, said the affected areas had experienced relative calm and assured that the government had put the situation under control.

He appealed to those who have sought refuge in Kinna to return to their homes.

The administrator said a police post with six officers had been established in the area and that five more officers would be posted to allow residents to go on with their lives.

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“We shall continue engaging the community as we seek lasting solutions to their challenges. We are committed to ensuring security for all,” Mr Nyakundi said.

But Waso University Students Organisation Chairman Abdi Galgalo said the series of conflict had adversely affected education as only 61 secondary students from Garbatulla transited to university last year.

The student leader said this year’s performance could be worse as Standard Eight and Form Four candidates from the area are home as their counterparts from other parts of the country prepare for exams.

During a meeting with the Garbatulla security team at Kinna social hall, residents pleaded with the government to boost security.

They expressed willingness to return home once they are convinced measures are in place to protect them.

About Whispers from the North

Whispers from the North is an online platform that appreciates the ecological, cultural and socio-economic diversities of Northern Kenya. We also acknowledge that the lives of the communities of northern Kenya has been shaped by a number of intrinsic and extrinsic factors which have led to complex challenge that calls for a multifaceted approach.

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