(Daily Nation) — Burnt roofless houses with gaping holes on the walls in Moyale Town are a constant reminder to residents of violent clashes that displaced many in the region.
But across the border, in Ethiopia, is another town that is a stark contrast of the Kenyan side. Ethiopia’s Zero Adi Village, a few metres from the border, has become a safe haven for Kenyans who fled the violence in Moyale.
Mr Mohamed Diba was a resident of Manyatta Burji estate in Moyale until 2013. He relocated his family to the Ethiopian side because of violence, and is yet to return. However, he operates his mobile phone business on the Kenyan side.
The father of three says he is enjoying life in Ethiopia, where he has rented a house, because there is security, a better infrastructure and affordable food.
“My house is located about 16 kilometres into Ethiopia. I pay rent of Sh4,500 per month for two rooms.
“Most of the victims of the clashes live in rented houses there because we are yet to rebuild our burnt houses,” he says.
It is easy for the trader and his family to live in the neighbouring country because the communities living on both sides of the border share the same language and culture.
The Nation found Mr Diba inspecting what remained of his house after attackers burnt it down in the 2013 clashes.
The conflict left about 30 people dead, more than 70,000 displaced and close to 100 houses burnt.
Like other victims, Mr Diba is rebuilding the breached fences and constructing a new house.
Resettlement of displaced persons is under way following a peace initiative by communities and the government.
Victims received between Sh100,000 and Sh275,000 as compensation, depending on the type of the house destroyed.
Mr Diba was rendered homeless just days after he moved into a permanent house he had constructed.
“We had a party on a Friday to officially open my new house. I slaughtered three goats and we celebrated the achievement. The house had cost me about Sh2.5 million to put up.
“We stayed in the house with my family over the weekend but on Monday, we moved to town because of the conflict.
“The next Tuesday, I received reports that my new house had been burnt down,” Mr Diba recounts.
He says he lost property worth more than Sh3 million.
“We only escaped with the clothes we were wearing. All the money I had invested in the house after years of hard work in business was destroyed in one day because of clashes. I moved my family to the Ethiopian side when things got worse.”
Mr Diba notes that peace has returned to Moyale Town and he has forgiven the arsonists.
“I just want to move on with life. The fact that we are back to rebuilding our houses is a clear sign that we are confident that there is peace.
“Once I am through with building my house, I will relocate my family from Ethiopia.” He received Sh375,000 as compensation from the government.
More than 2,000 other displaced persons have been resettled by the International Organisation for Migration, funded by Japan, the Swedish International Development Cooperation and the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund.