THE United Kingdom has denied its troops had abducted a Kenyan child. Local legislators had accused the troops, who are training in Kenya, of “kidnapping” 10-year-old herd boy after he was badly injured by unexploded British ordnance.
“Contrary to media reports, the child was not abducted by British troops. With the agreement of the Head Doctor at Wamba and the child’s father, he was airlifted by British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK) to Nanyuki Cottage Hospital (NCH) for further specialist surgery,” the British High Commission said in Nairobi.
It said the Archers Post Kenyan Police Service was conducting investigations, assisted by the Kenya Defence Forces and BATUK, and whilst this investigation is in its early stages, initial indications are that the child’s injuries were caused by unexploded ammunition (UXO) left within the live-firing impact area.
“The investigation remains ongoing and has yet to establish whether the UXO was of Kenyan or British origin. The High Commission extended its sympathy to both the victim and family and would remain fully engaged until the investigation is complete.
“Concerning the sequence of events, contrary to media reports, the child was not abducted by British troops. As a follow up to the initial life-saving first aid administered to the injured child by British troops, Commander BATUK visited the injured child in Wamba hospital in order to assess his immediate and future medical needs and how BATUK might be able to assist the local authorities in meeting these,” the Commission added.
The Head Doctor of Wamba hospital confirmed that at that stage the patient was stable, initial surgery had gone well and he was receiving everything that he needed.
He stated that he would at some stage require more specialist treatment in a larger hospital, and Commander BATUK therefore established a direct link between Wamba Hospital’s Head Doctor and his own unit Medical Officer in order to scope the options for assisting.
All funding for the child’s treatment at both Wamba and NCH hospitals has been provided through voluntary donations from BATUK personnel, their families and exercising British troops.
In order to prevent incidents of this nature occurring, the UK was conducting an annual partnered clearance exercise with the Kenyan Army Engineer Branch to locate and safely dispose of unexploded ammunition.
A part of this exercise involves an outreach programme into the local Samburu communities and villages to educate on the danger posed by the UXO and what to do if it is discovered. This exercise is due to be formalised and cemented into the new Defence Co-operation Agreement currently in the final stages of signature between Kenya and the UK.
Author: Maria Macharia