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Country Reports
KENYA, Landmine Monitor Report 2000
LM Report 2000 Full Report   Executive Summary   Key Findings   Key Developments   Translated Country Reports


Key developments since March 1999: The Oromo Liberation Front, a rebel group operating in southern Ethiopia, has been accused of planting antitank and possibly antipersonnel mines inside Kenyan territory.

Mine Ban Policy

Kenya signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 5 December 1997 but has not yet ratified. On 3 May 1999, Kenya’s Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sheldon Muchilwa, told the First Meeting of States Parties that “we have almost completed the domestic requirements for ratification of the Convention and will deposit our instrument in the very near future.”[1] Three weeks later, at the regional launch of Landmine Monitor Report 1999 in Nairobi, a statement from the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Bonaya Godana, was read to a public briefing, stating that Kenya’s ratification was “at an advanced stage” and that the ratification instruments would be deposited with the United Nations “shortly.”[2] In October 1999, the Minister for Foreign Affairs told participants at a workshop on ratification hosted by the Attorney-General’s office and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that Kenya was formalizing the ratification procedures.[3] At the same time, Attorney General Amos Wako stated that the ratification “will be done upon conclusion of the preparatory committee on the elements of crime and rules of procedure, which will be finalized next year.”[4]

In June 2000, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official told Landmine Monitor that the ratification delay is due to “the long process of getting the concerned Ministries to conclude consultations before a Cabinet paper can be presented to the Cabinet for approval, paving way for appropriate legislation to commence.”[5] The official said he was “optimistic” this process would see ratification completed in time for the Second Meeting of States Parties.

Kenyan legislators have pledged their support for swift passage of ratification legislation, including Member of Parliament Raila Odinga, who leads the National Development Party and Member of Parliament George Anyona, who leads the Kenya Social Congress, and Member of Parliament, Josephine Odira Sinyo.[6]

At the First Meeting of States Parties, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs Muchilwa stated, “We in Kenya are convinced that a successful implementation of the objectives of the Convention will constitute a significant contribution to international peace and security. We therefore appeal to all states to demonstrate their commitment to the ban by working together in solidarity.”[7]

Kenya participated in the Standing Committee of Experts on Mine Clearance in September 1999 and the meeting on Victim Assistance in September 1999. Kenya voted for UN General Assembly Resolution 54/54B in support of the Mine Ban Treaty in December 1999, as it had done on key pro-ban UNGA resolutions in 1996, 1997 and 1998.

Kenya is not a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons. It is a member of the Conference on Disarmament, but has not been vocal on the issue of negotiating a mine export ban in that forum.

Many advocacy activities have been undertaken in the past year by various local and international non-governmental organizations, including by the Kenya Coalition Against Landmines, to advocate rapid ratification of the Mine Ban Treaty, and domestic legislation.[8] Kenya’s Minister for Foreign Affairs welcomed Landmine Monitor Report 1999 as “an initiative that aims at monitoring the implementation of one of the most important international treaties in the world today.”[9]

Production, Transfer and Stockpiling

Kenya has not produced or exported landmines. The current size and composition of Kenya’s stockpile of antipersonnel mines remains unknown. According to the Attorney General, the issues of transit and transfer and the interpretation of the treaty prohibition “will be adequately dealt with at the legislating stage.”[10]

Landmine Problem

Ethiopia’s Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), a rebel group operating in southern Ethiopia, has been accused of planting antitank and possibly antipersonnel mines inside Kenyan territory, in the north of the country.[11]

In May 1999, two AT mine-related incidents were reported in Moyale district, a key transportation point along Kenya’s northern border with Ethiopia.[12] On 8 May, a senior Kenyan government official was killed and two of his colleagues seriously injured when their Land Rover hit a landmine near Moyale town.[13] On 12 May 1999, a thirteen-ton lorry hit a landmine on the Moyale-Dabel road near Oda, injuring six passengers.[14] The North Eastern Provincial Police Officer told Landmine Monitor that bandits suspected to be members of OLF had already planted two antivehicle mines, and were planting an antipersonnel mine, when they were disturbed by Kenyan security personnel.[15] The Ethiopian Embassy in Nairobi denied involvement in the planting of the mines along the Marsabit-Moyale highway, saying that it “does not get involved in an internationally outlawed activity like planting mines targeting civilian population, institutions and infrastructure.”[16]

In Bute village in Nana near Moyale where the landmine incidents occurred, the mine explosions caused a lot of anxiety to the local community.[17] According to a resident:

This village was saved by donkeys otherwise we could have starved to death. The road to Moyale was closed for one month and even after it was declared safe, few vehicle owners were willing to put their vehicles at risk of being blown-up by landmines. Everything we eat here comes from Moyale. We are used to bandits, the government provides us with armed security escort, but these strange explosives are very deadly, even the escort cannot protect us from them. We are very scared.[18]

On 22 March 2000, fourteen Kenyan civilians were killed and four injured in two separate incidents when the vehicles they were travelling in were blown up in Dugo, in Ethiopia, two kilometers north of Moyale town. In the first incident, involving a Toyota Hilux pick-up truck, fourteen died and only one passenger survived - a pregnant woman who gave birth to still born twins at the scene.[19] Four Kenyan occupants of a lorry heading for Moyale were seriously injured when it ran over a second mine at the same place. Kenya’s Eastern Provincial Commissioner, Philomena Koech, told media that the victims were not Kenyan but Ethiopian and that they had already been buried in Ethiopia “where they died and belonged.”[20] Landmine Monitor has recorded the names and details of those involved in the incidents and confirms that the victims were Kenyan.[21]

Local police told media that the mines, believed to be detonated by remote control, were planted by militiamen of the Oromo Liberation Front, who infiltrate from Ethiopia.[22]

Kenya has a historic but limited problem with UXO dating back to World War I and WW II and also from the Mau Mau insurgency in the years running up to independence. More recently, Army maneuvers involving the Kenyan, U.S., and U.K. armed forces have led to a slight increase in the UXO problem in training ranges.[23] In Samburu district, the local community reportedly wants to sue the British government over the UXO problems in the area, while a British Embassy spokesman in Nairobi told media that they will study the issue of accepting liability for some UXO fatalities.[24]

No in-depth assessment or survey has been made of the extent of the mine and UXO problem. In late 1999, KCAL commissioned a preliminary survey of landmines and UXOs in the northern part of Kenya.[25]

Mine Action

Mine clearance in Kenya is the task of combat engineers of the Kenya Armed Forces, who respond when a UXO or mine is reported.[26] In October 1999, the Africa Demining Program (AFRIDEP), an initiative by retired Kenyan military personnel, was registered in Kenya as a commercial demining organization. According to the Programme Chairman, Dr. John M. Atunga, AFRIDEP has all the necessary equipment and technology to undertake demining activities to the highest standards.[27]

When the mine incidents occurred in Moyale, the Kenyan Army used armour-plated Army lorries to run over the suspected mined areas. Military experts told Landmine Monitor that it was “not necessary to take the more advanced mine clearance equipment to Moyale because of one simple mine. Moving the equipment to and from Moyale would have been expensive. Suffice to say that the military has the capability to demine.”[28]

The military does not conduct mine awareness education. Mine awareness or risk education programmes in Kenya are so far confined to advocacy through the mass media and the workshops hosted by KCAL and other organizations. The Jesuit Refugee Service Eastern Africa (JRS) carries out landmine awareness education for refugees from neighboring countries when the need arises. When UNICEF was asked if it would engage in mine awareness for the communities in Moyale after the mine incidents, the regional representative said that UNICEF “cannot come in at the national level unless we are invited by our local partners. So far this has not happened.”[29]

Landmine Survivor Assistance

Kenya borders with nations currently or recently engaged in conflict where landmines have been used (Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda) and receives refugees, including landmine survivors, from these nations.

Victims from the recent mine incidents were treated at the Moyale District Hospital, the only government hospital in the district. The hospital has a bed capacity of 120 patients and serves people from Ethiopia as well.

There are general hospitals and dispensaries throughout the country and there are occupational therapists, counsellors and psychologists from the Ministry of Health in various hospitals. The Ministry of National Heritage, Culture and Sports sponsors the Kabete Orthopaedic Workshop, which manufactures some orthopaedic appliances and provides them at a subsidized cost. The Association of the Physically Disabled of Kenya hosts workshops on the manufacture of orthopaedic appliances. None of these organizations, however, deal specifically with landmine victims.

<GUINEA-BISSAU | São Tomé e Principe>

[1] Statement by Hon. Sheldon Muchilwa, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs, to the First Meeting of States Parties, Maputo, 3 May 1999.
[2] Speech by Dr Bonaya Godana, Minister for Foreign Affairs, delivered by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. William Morogo, to the regional launch of Landmine Monitor Report 1999, Nairobi, 27 May 1999.
[3] Julius Bosire, “Kenya ‘to ratify landmine treaty,’” Daily Nation (Nairobi), 24 October 1999.
[4] The statement by the Attorney General was delivered by the Deputy Solicitor General, Julius Kandie. The People, 24 October 1999, p. 3.
[5] Interview with senior official, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nairobi, 13 June 2000.
[6] Statements by Raila Odinga and George Anyona to Seminar on Peace Building and Conflict Resolution Mechanisms with Special Reference to Mine Action, organized jointly by KCAL and the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation (JOOF). Notes recorded by Landmine Monitor researcher, who was a rapporteur at the workshop. Interview with Josephine Odira Sinyo, Nairobi, 20 December 1999.
[7] Statement by Hon. Sheldon Muchilwa, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs, to the FMSP, Maputo, 3 May 1999.
[8] Workshop by KCAL/Greater Horn of Africa Mine Action Network (GHAMAN), Nairobi, 28-29 April 1999; Pre-Hap Landmine Workshop, Nairobi, 28 April-2 May 1999; Nairobi; KCAL/ Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation (JOOF) Workshop on Peacebuilding and Conflict resolution with special reference to landmines, Nairobi, 3-4 August 1999; ICRC Kenya Workshop on ratification and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty, Nyeri, 22 October 1999; Workshop by KCAL/GHAMAN, Nairobi, 12-13 November 1999.
[9] Speech by Minister for Foreign Affairs, delivered by the Deputy Minister, to the regional launch of Landmine Monitor Report 1999, Nairobi, 27 May 1999.
[10] Letter from Attorney General Amos Wako to Landmine Monitor researcher, 23 December 1999.
[11] Interview with senior government official, Nairobi, 6 January 2000.
[12] IPPNW-Kenya, “Landmine Report from Kenya,” May 1999.
[13] “Landmine Kills Kenyan Official,” PANA (Nairobi), 10 May 1999.
[14] Landmine Monitor interviewed one survivor of this incident who said that another survivor, Maxwell Cheruitich, died weeks later from injuries related to the incident. Interview with George Mutisya Mulinge, Drilling Spares and Services Ltd., Nairobi, 7 January 2000.
[15] Interview with Jeremiah Matagaro, Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police, Provincial Police Officer, North Eastern Province, Nairobi, 28 October 1999.
[16] Said Wabera, “Tension grips Moyale as soldiers move in,” Daily Nation, 21 May 1999, p. 60.
[17] Interview with senior government official, Nairobi, 16 December 1999.
[18] Interview with Gure Mohammed, Bute, Moyale, 29 July 1999.
[19] “14 killed, 5 injured as landmines blast truck,” Daily Nation, (Nairobi), 23 March 2000.
[20] Kenya Broadcasting Corporation TV, Nairobi, in English, 1800 GMT, 23 March 2000.
[21] When there is a severe drought in Kenya, Kenyans from Gare community in Moyale and north Kenya often migrate with their livestock to southern Ethiopia in search of pasture. The lorry incident involved Kenyans from Gare community returning home. Interview with Said Wabera, Nairobi, 24 July 2000.
[22] “Landmines Kill 14, Injure Four Others In Kenya,” PANA (Nairobi), 23 March 2000.
[23] Otsieno Namway, “Who Planted Mines in the Rift?” The East African (Nairobi), 24 February 2000.
[24] Said Wabera, “British government admits claims,” DN, 28 September 1999. However, spokesperson Rumbold, in his faxed letter to the Landmine Monitor Researcher, states that “The British Army is only one of a number of armed forces which carry out live firing exercises on training areas in Kenya. Afterwards, we routinely sweep any areas used for UXO. We have not seen any evidence that UXO from British Army Exercises has been responsible for any injuries.”
[25] John Kamau and Said Wabera, “Dangerous games: Preliminary Report on the state of landmines and other UXOs in Kenya,” (KCAL: Nairobi), February 2000. See also John Kamau, “The Bomb Country: The Kenya we Hardly Know,” Newsline, (Nairobi), Issue 5, 26 May-8 June 2000.
[26] Interview, Major (rtd) M. Thairu, Nairobi, 16 December 1999.
[27] Dr. John M. Atunga, AFRIDEP’s Program Chair stated this in a workshop on landmines during the All Africa Peace Conference, Nairobi, 5 November 1999. The standards were not clearly defined. AFRIDEP lost the initial contract for mine clearance in Kosovo due to the delay in the registration of the organization. A new contract is being negotiated.
[28] Interview with Lt Col (rtd) J.A.W. Kitiku, Deputy Director, Security Research and Information Centre, Nairobi, 4 January 2000.
[29] Interview, Lissa Kurbiel, UNICEF Regional Office, during landmines workshop at the AAPC, Nairobi, 5 November 1999.