Mother and Son died in arson attack
A refugee woman and her son died from a fire incident that took place in Kakuma refugee camp.
By Qaabata Boru
The incident happened on the night of Thursday 28th July at around two in the morning when the family house caught fire.
Christine Atek Omal 56 and her son Johnson Omal Oloya who was 17 both suffered severe injuries as a result of burns from the fire.
On 29th July, Christine and Johnson were air lifted by the camp authority to Nairobi National Hospital where they were admitted to the intensive care unit.
Unfortunately, both the victims died from the several wounds that were caused by the fire, according to the records from the Nairobi National Hospital. “They were diagnosed with second degree burns which were generalised over the body in addition to inhalation burns” reads a doctor’s statement found by KANERE.
Johnson died on the 29th July at 11:20 pm while Christine’s death was certified on the 31st July, 2016 at 5:00am.
The cause of the fire was not immediately established. However, a week later Kakuma police arrested a suspect after a tip off from community leaders in the area.
The family who were registered refugees from South Sudan had lived in Kakuma since they arrived in 2006 under the UNHCR registration number 3081732 and were residing at Kakuma one zone two block eleven. Relatives told KANERE that the family had security problems in the camp prior to the fire incident that resulted in the deaths of Christine and her son Johnson. However, failure in handling family’s protection case and negligence in the protection mechanism left the victims at the mercy of their perpetrators.
Christine and her family escaped from South Sudan due to the civil war which caused the death of her close family members including her first born son, her last born daughter and husband.
In 2013 in a report before Kakuma police; ref: C/GEN/II/VOL.IV/19/2013 Christine recorded a statement alleging that she is being discriminated by members of her community who called her a witch. The police officers dismissed the allegations since she could not pick out a specific incident or individual propagating the allegation.
On a particular case recorded before the Kenya police in Kakuma in 2015: Ref OB 44/20/08/2015 – Christine recorded a statement that she was sexually attacked by one known and another unknown man who broke into her house and raped her. The camp management and Kakuma police failed to arrest the perpetrators and safeguard security to the family in need of protection.
Christine reported the matter at the Peace Building and Reconciliation Unit run by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) that works with UNHCR Protection Office, who had assessed the matter but failed to take concrete protection measures to relocate the family to a safe zone or to offer the resettlement options that are available to refugees in dire need of safety.
Following the fatal arson attack in July, one suspect who was identified as Joseph Lokale was arrested by police on the 7th August and appeared before Kakuma’s magistrate court on the 5th September.
Joseph Lokale is on trial for murder charges and still waiting on remand in Lodwar prison until the trial which is scheduled on the 17th January, 2017.