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Ogiek People Brutally Evicted from Ancestral Forests

The Ogiek community in Kenya’s Mau Forest is facing an anticipated humanitarian crisis, with reports of brutal evictions initiated by local authorities during the recently concluded state visit of the United Kingdom’s King Charles.


The situation has escalated, leading to the destruction of homes and schools belonging to the Ogiek people, a long-standing native community in the region.

Read also: Germany Apologizes for Colonial Crimes in Tanzania, Britain yet to in Kenya

The community, comprising around 700 individuals in Sasimwani, Mau Forest, woke up on Thursday, November 2, to a devastating reality.

Kenyan authorities, despite prior rulings from the African Court, had arrived to evict them from their ancestral lands. The evictions, purportedly on environmental grounds, have left the community in a state of despair and desolation, feeling like strangers in their own land.

Daniel Kobei, Director of the Ogiek Peoples Development Programme, expressed the community’s deep distress, highlighting the destruction of their homes without any resistance.

“They are saying they won the African Court case but nobody cared,” he said.

This crisis starkly contrasts with legal verdicts from the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which unequivocally recognized them as rightful owners of the land. The court mandated the return of these lands to the Ogiek through a consultative process, emphasizing that conservation should never be a justification for eviction.

Lucy Claridge, Director of the International Lawyers Project, who has been representing the Ogiek since 2010, reiterated the court’s verdict, expressing grave concern over the government’s failure to abide by the court’s rulings.

“It is extremely concerning that the government has not only failed to implement the Court’s rulings but has taken steps directly contravening them, including through these evictions,” Claridge said.

The Ogiek community, deeply rooted in the west-central Kenyan highlands, has faced historical marginalization. Despite their crucial role in conserving and protecting the Mau Forest, they have been subject to evictions dating back to the colonial era, creating a tragic cycle of displacement and dispossession.

Elders from the Ogiek Council of Elders immediately sought dialogue with various authorities to avert this crisis, but the evictions proceeded regardless, leaving the community in fear and uncertainty.

Daniel Kobei repeated the plea to the Kenyan government, urging respect for the rule of law and the African Court’s decision, emphasizing that these lands belong to the Ogiek.

The international community’s attention has been drawn to the situation, with a call for swift action to prevent the impending humanitarian crisis facing the Ogiek community.

The Ogiek Peoples Development Programme urged all relevant authorities, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and concerned citizens to intervene promptly.

Eunice Chepkemoi, expressed the community’s plight, stating, “It is the government trading with our environment, our land, disconnecting us from our environment,” highlighting the alleged use of climate-related funds as a catalyst for the evictions.

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The Ogiek Peoples Development Programme made a resounding plea for intervention to halt these evictions and implored the Kenyan government to implement the African Court’s judgment regarding the case, echoing the urgent need to prevent the looming humanitarian crisis that threatens their community.

As the community stands at the brink of displacement, urgent and concerted efforts are necessary to prevent further tragedy in Kenya’s Mau Forest.


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