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2002-08-30

Britain Will Pay $7 Million to the Masai People of Northern Kenya: Unexploded Bombs Left By British Army Left 500 Injured Or Dead

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After half of a century of suffering from unexploded munitions left by the British military, a group of nomadic herders in northern Kenya will receive $7 million from the British government.

The British Army has trained for 50 years on grazing land used by the Masai tribe.

An estimated 500 Masai herders from northern Kenya have been killed or seriously injured by ammunitions left on the firing range.

According to the London Guardian, almost all of the deaths and injuries have occurred when children played with unexploded ordnance while herding cattle and goats near the firing ranges.

The settlement was reached after a London-based law firm threatened a major lawsuit against the British government on behalf of over 200 herders.

Yesterday I spoke to James Legei, President of Osiligi, the human rights organization in Kenya which helped the Masai people to win the settlement. The word 'Osiligi' means hope. (Osiligi is also working to return land to the hands of the Masai people, who were dispossessed by British colonists. Currently, James Legei says "foreigners" own roughly 60% of the land in Laikipia province. In the same region, there are some 30,000 Masai people, and only a couple hundred white ranchers.) I asked him for his reaction to the settlement.

Guests:

  • James Legei, with Osiligi, a Northern Kenyan human rights and development organization working to empower the Masai people. Osiligi is also working to return land to the hands of the Masai people, who were dispossessed by British colonists. E-mail: osiligi@africaonline.co.ke
  • Martyn Day, human rights lawyer at the British firm, Leigh, Day & Co.

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