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War on terror only leading to more suffering

Police Inspector General David Kimaiyo’s tweet read: “I want to reiterate that (the) war against terrorism and other crimes is still on countrywide. We’re not targeting any religion but criminals.”

These words come in the midst of a mass outcry against the Kenya police who seem to be targeting groups from a certain religion, during their recent crackdown.

In the past week the security forces have been carrying out raids in the mainly Somali neighbourhood of Eastleigh. The raids have resulted in the arrest of about 3,000 individuals.

On Twitter, there has been intensive debate on the conduct of the mass arrests, with those against them using the hash-tag “KasaraniConcentrationCamp”.

Media agencies have not minced their words, often describing these arrests as ‘mass arrests of Islamists’ or ‘mass arrests of Somalis.’

This is despite, Somalia  Ali Americo assuring that Ugandans, South Sudanese, Ethiopians and Eritreans were also among those being held.

But this does not matter as images (likened to images from 1954 when Kenyans were held by the British in make-shift concentration camps) emerge showing people held in large cages with no protection from the elements for uncertain periods of time.

These are the type of images, conditions and words which can breed hatred and create more terror.

We understand that the police are doing identity checks to determine the people’s legal status and that they’re trying to deal with the al-Shabaab threats and provide us with better security. But is this really the best way to go about it?

As the crackdown continues and deportations begin we can only hope that our forces are respecting the rights of the individual and working closely with agencies such as UNHCR to ensure the people are safely repatriated with integrity.