NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 14 — The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has called on the government to extend the 24-hour ultimatum issued to civilians in the troubled regions in the North Rift to for safe evacuation.
KNCHR made the appeal on Tuesday ahead of the expiry of a 24-hour ultimatum initially issued on Sunday but extended on Monday.
The ultimatum was issued as a multi-agency security team including the military planned to begin a second phase of a campaign against bandits in the North.
It was set to lapse on March 14 at 1930hrs.
KNCHR Chairperson Roseline Adede said there is an urgent need for the government to take extraordinary measures to avert what she described an impending humanitarian crisis as a result of the new order.
“The Commission notes that most of the areas identified and dubbed as ‘crime scenes’ are civilians habitual places of residence and the net effect of the vacate order will have far-reaching negative effects on a myriad of their human rights and fundamental freedoms as protected in our Constitution,” Adede said.
She noted that civilians who have been victims of banditry activities, are struggling to move out of the disturbed areas with nowhere to go.
Adede said this would result to the mushrooming of overcrowded makeshift camps and centers with no provisions for basic commodities like water, food, and healthcare services.
The KNCHR Chairperson said that the Commission fully supports security operations aimed at restoring peace and order in the larger North Rift region but urged the government to adopt a rights-based approach.
“It is important for this second phase of the joint security operation to adhere to both national and international humanitarian and human rights laws, principles and standards which sets out clear obligations to facilitate the delivery of relief for civilians in need,” she said.
The KNCHR Chairperson further appealed to the security agencies to guarantee the safety and security of all civilians in the affected areas, and a safe and orderly passage.
Adede stated that due to the pastoralism nature of the affected communities, and in view of the impending displacement, the National and County Governments should provide safe houses and spaces where the communities can temporarily relocate with access to basic commodities including water, food, adequate and reasonable sanitation.
To avoid disruption of education in the region, the KNCHR Chairperson said that both levels of government should take measures to ensure seamless provision of alternative education centers in the affected areas.
KNCHR called on Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki to allow humanitarian agencies including the Kenya Red Cross to assist vulnerable civilians in the bandit-hit region to move to safer grounds as well as provide any other humanitarian assistance.
Adede further advised security teams to leverage on the existing local administration structures for purposes of sharing information with members of the public on disturbed areas, relocation arrangements for populations being displaced from disturbed areas, and emergency support services.
She added that the Commission is available to provide linkages between members of the public and the security agencies to ensure the success of the operation.
“The Commission is monitoring the security operation pursuant to its constitutional obligation and calls on residents of the affected areas to assist and cooperate with security agencies to bring an end to the perennial insecurity in the region,” she said.
On Monday the government revised areas to be evacuated by civilians a day after it ordered evacuation in 27 areas.
Kindiki excluded Kabelbo, Nakwamoru, Lobokat, Lokoron, Turkwel Escarpment and Ombollion from areas to be vacated for security operation.
He added Ng’elecha, Losokoni caves, Laramoru Gorges, Karau, Noosidan Escarpment, Rugus caves into the list of areas to be evacuated.
The evacuation will pave way for an intensified security operation to flush out the bandits from their hideouts commanded by Deputy Inspector General of Police Noor Gabow.