EU suspends Kenya water conservation funding over killing
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The European Union is suspending funding for a water conservation project in Kenya after a tribesman was shot and killed by government forest service guards and another seriously wounded, the EU announced Wednesday.
The shooting took place Tuesday in the Embobut Forest and came after the bloc of European countries warned it would suspend the $35 million project if force was used against locals, the European Union’s ambassador to Kenya, Stefano Dejak, said.
The conservation project was designed to protect land in the Mount Elgon and the Cherangani Hills areas of Kenya. Known as water towers, the terrain stores rainwater and enables regular river flows, among other benefits.
“The EU insists on full respect for the rights of indigenous people, and the conservation work on the water towers was never expected to involve any evictions or use of violence,” the bloc said in a statement.
Staff members have been following up on reports that started coming in more than a year ago concerning abuses in the conservation areas and claims allegedly tying the evictions of Sengwer tribespeople to the EU’s financial support, the EU said.
The government-funded Kenya National Commission on Human Rights says forest guards have been carrying out forceful evictions of forest tribes since December.
The commission, Amnesty International and two other human rights groups had called on the EU to suspend funding for the project.
Earlier this month, three U.N. experts expressed concerns about the reports of evictions and urged the EU to stop funding the water project.