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Wednesday, 20 November, 2002, 15:42 GMT
UK begins paying Kenya compensation
Masai tribeswomen
Hundreds of herdsmen are said to have been killed or injured

A group of nomadic Kenyan herdsmen will on Wednesday begin receiving their share of a multi-million-pounds legal settlement from Britain's Ministry of Defence.

The Kenyans won more than 4m ($7m) in compensation for injuries sustained on a firing range used by the British army.

Corporal Phil Johnys inspects an exploded 105mm shell, Samburu district, 2000
The British army has begun clearing up the debris
But since the settlement was announced, hundreds of new claimants have come forward, also demanding compensation.

Many families will be getting tens of thousands of dollars each, huge sums for nomadic herdsmen who have never even seen a bank before.

Thirteen-year-old Madiwan Labulim will get more than $100,000 - money she says she will use for school fees.

Her left eye and leg were badly injured when she picked up an unexploded shell eight years ago.

Fraudulent claims

The British lawyers who negotiated the compensation deal have arranged workshops for the Kenyans, trying to teach them about investing their money wisely and avoiding con men.

But the legal battle is not quite over yet; more than 200 cases have now been settled, but some 400 new claimants have since come forward.

A Kenyan amputee stands outside the Houses of Parliament in London
Herdsmen say the army left bombs on grazing lands

Martin Day, the lawyer representing the Kenyans, says it is clear that a good third of them are not genuine.

Some simply have burns; others have polio, or have bought fake medical documents.

This week, Mr Day and three experts from the Ministry of Defence are examining all the new cases.

The ministry has said it is prepared to pay out more, but the cut-off point for new claims is the end of January.

The $7m British payout has attracted the attention of other groups in Kenya, specifically the veterans of the Mao Mao rebellion of the 1950s, against British colonial rule.

Mr Day will be meeting some of them on Thursday.

The veterans say they were the victims of torture and abuse in British detention camps.

They have been demanding compensation for years.

Now, Mr Day is planning to take up their cause too.

See also:

18 Jul 02 | UK
04 May 01 | Africa
23 Mar 01 | Africa
06 Feb 01 | Country profiles
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