The Kenya Red Cross Society has suspended all operations in Baringo county and withdrawn its staff and volunteers effective Saturday, 25 February 2017.
The organisation said it took the decision after harassment of its staff and volunteers on Friday at Kambi Samaki.
“It is with a heavy heart that the Kenya Red Cross Society announces the suspension of our activities in Baringo county, as we can no longer guarantee the safety of our staff, volunteers and resources. Our staff and volunteers were threatened by residents despite our assurance that the consignment was headed to Turkana county, and had nothing to do with the current inter-clan conflict in Baringo county,” said Dr. Abbas Gullet, Secretary General, KRCS in a statement.
The incident took place 12 kilometres from Marigat town and towards Chemolingot, where a convoy of seven KRCS vehicles carrying 96.8 metric tonnes of relief food comprising of maize flour, pulses, cooking oil and salt meant for Kapedo and Lomelo areas in Turkana county, was blocked by the residents and forced to turn back to Marigat.
He said the KRCS staff attempted to negotiate with the residents, majority of whom were young people, but they were adamant.
“After one hour of negotiations, the convoy had to turn around after residents pounced on one vehicle and threatened to burn it down, only to meet another roadblock 4 kilometres from the first one.”
Gullet said the confrontation escalated, as the residents who are from the Tugen community accused KRCS of giving food support to the Pokot community.
“Never in the history of Kenya Red Cross Society, have we ever been held hostage. We have always had access to all areas due to our neutrality and impartiality, during all crisis and emergencies,” continued Dr. Gullet.
Baringo is affected by both the drought and conflict.
The society has been supporting residents with monthly cash transfers, non-food items, rehabilitation of waters sources and medical outreaches in Baringo North, Baringo South and Tiaty sub counties.
In addition, KRCS has been evacuating those wounded in conflict, and supporting displaced mothers and children.
“Kenya Red Cross Society may only resume operations when the Baringo County government guarantees the safety of our staff, volunteers and resources. I also request the central government to intervene and shield the vulnerable residents from the suffering we continue to witness,” concluded Dr. Gullet.