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Last Updated: Monday, 6 February 2006, 09:20 GMT
Kenya drought 'worsens conflict'
Kenyan herder near Nairobi
Maasai herders have gone to Nairobi to seek pasture
The drought in northern Kenya is increasing conflict between the area's nomadic groups, as they travel further to find scarce pasture, a charity says.

"It's not just the food crisis that is claiming lives," said Oxfam Kenya head Gezahegn Kebede, warning of further deadly clashes unless more aid arrives.

He warned of the worst conflict in a decade. Last month, some 40 people were killed in clashes between rival groups.

Some 4m Kenyans need food aid, along with a further 7m across East Africa.

The nomadic groups of northern Kenya, southern Ethiopia, parts of Sudan and Somalia have a history of fighting over livestock and pasture but Oxfam says the drought is increasing tensions.

Following long wars in Somalia and Sudan, weapons are relatively cheap and readily available in the area.

"The number of weapons in the area is making such encounters increasingly lethal as nomadic communities now have to travel hundreds of kilometres in search of pasture - often taking them into areas controlled by other communities," Oxfam said.

"There is also growing conflict between farmers and cattle herders as livestock invade farms."

Last month's death came when Kenyans tried to retrieve animals stolen by cross-border raiders from Ethiopia and Sudan.

Kenya's environment minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai has often warned of the link between conflict in Africa and environmental factors such as land degradation.


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