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Dialogue Needed in Kenyan Ethnic Clashes

A victim of the Tana River clashes between the pastoralists and farmers within the delta region rests inside a ward at the Malindi District hospital in Kenya, September 7, 2012.

The humanitarian situation in the Tana River delta in southeastern Kenya is dire.

The humanitarian situation in the Tana River delta in southeastern Kenya is dire amid a wave of violence between rival groups. More than 100 people, including many women and children, have been killed during three weeks of ethnic clashes.

Dialogue Needed in Kenyan Ethnic Clashes
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Violence between settled Pokomo farmers and semi-nomadic Orma cattle-herders has occurred intermittently for years, and violence broke out again in August after some Pokomo accused the Orma of grazing their herds on their land, attacked a group and killed more than 50 people. Reprisal attacks have been conducted by both sides, homes destroyed and people forced to flee their villages. To restore order, the government has sent in security police and imposed a curfew.

The United States condemns this deadly cycle of attack and counter-attack, and our sympathy goes out to the families who have lost loved ones in the violence.

We also urge community leaders and the Kenyan government to intensify efforts to bring the opposing factions together to end the violence and establish peaceful mechanisms to address future disputes. It is critical that those who have committed crimes be held accountable through transparent, fair and thorough investigations and trials.

Attacks such as those in Kenya’s Tana River Delta destabilize the surrounding region and rob Kenyans of opportunity. We call on all parties to address their grievances and assert their rights through peaceful means, as provided for in the nation’s new constitution, so that all Kenyans can participate in peaceful and credible elections may be held in March of next year.