Poverty likely to push Lamu youth into al Shabaab – officials

High poverty levels in parts of Lamu county during could push many young people into crime groups including joining al Shabaab, officials say.

Poverty is high in Bobo, Roka, Kibiboni, Kwasasi, Mkondoni, Bargoni and surrounding villages.

Hundreds of casual labourers in hotels and restaurants lost their jobs after many of the joints closed down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking during a weekly advisory committee meeting in Lamu town on Sunday, chiefs, assistant chiefs and Nyumba Kumi officials from these areas expressed worry that the lack of food and a poor life could prompt many to join terror groups in pursuit of a better life.

Hundreds of residents in these villages are facing starvation and have appealed for relief.

Chief Ahmed Lausi of Hindi said the situation had seen an increase in the number of young people roaming around.

He said such people could easily be targeted by terror groups as they are the most vulnerable.

“The number of people walking around hopelessly and idle is alarming. People are hungry and we are just concerned that they can easily be targeted by criminal and terror groups. Our biggest plea is to the government and well wishers to help with relief food and aid,” Lausi said.

He said some parents especially mothers had gone to the extent of encouraging their young daughters to engage in sex with boda boda operators and fishermen in return for money.

The situation has greatly contributed to the soaring cases of teen pregnancies.

Administrators called for interventions to enable residents cope.

Lamu has not recorded a single case of coronavirus since the first outbreak in the country in March.

“The Covid-19 situation has caused untold suffering. Lamu is not yet affected but the pangs are still being felt and people are suffering. People have no food, people are hopeless. Mothers are now trading their daughters sexually for food and money. We are worried that it could get worse than this. We are talking about people joining terrorism,” Nyumba Kumi official Peter Mwaura said.

He said many people were unable to tend to their farms due to hunger.

“People have farms but farming requires one to be well fed and that’s not the situation here,” he said.