Following a fire that destroyed over 4,800 hectares (12,000 acres) of property during a military drill by the British Army Training Unit in Kenya (BATUK), a Kenyan court has ordered the British Army to reimburse the landowners.
Ten days prior to King Charles III’s arrival, residents of central Kenya protested on Friday that they had not received any compensation for a disastrous fire that occurred in 2021 during a British military drill. The facility is located close to Nanyuki, which is around 120 miles (or 200 km) north of the capital Nairobi.
Lawyer Kelvin Kubai read out an “open letter to the British government” on behalf of the victims during a news conference. “Two and a half years later, zero compensation has been given to the people affected,” Kubai added. “The British Army is actually using every trick from the colonial rule book to try and not pay the Kenyan people compensation,” said the letter, which was signed by 7,000 claimants.
In addition to receiving reimbursement for medical expenses related to “severe breathing difficulties” and “permanent issues with eyesight,” they are also requesting compensation for environmental harm.
“Many, many farmers have not been able to grow back the crops and regain the livestock that was lost in this terrible fire,” the letter read.
An intergovernmental liaison commission (IGLC), consisting of officials from both nations, is in charge of overseeing compensation for the fire. The open letter’s writers chastised the IGLC for requesting further evidence of the fire’s damage.
The letter said, “They wish to insult us further by telling us we have to prove –- again –- the damage that their careless and arrogant soldiers caused. The facts remain that the British Army destroyed the environment in Kenya where they are guests and they don’t want to pay us for it, ‘The British must go’. Justice delayed is justice denied.” It called King Charles and the British government “stop treating Kenya like a colonial outpost”.
A small group of protesters, who had been chanting “we want our money” and “the British must go,” momentarily stopped traffic at the end of the news conference before scattering.
From October 31 to November 3, King Charles III and Queen Camilla will travel to the nation of East Africa. This will be King Charles III’s first visit to a Commonwealth nation since ascending to the throne last year and his fourth formal visit to Kenya. The town of Nanyuki, where the BATUK is headquartered, will not be visited by the British king; instead, he will only be in Mombasa and Nairobi.
Although the army post supports the local economy, it has also been linked to a number of controversies.
The most well-known example is that of 21-year-old Agnes Wanjiru, who was discovered dead in a septic tank in 2012 after it was claimed that she had gone out to party with British soldiers at a Nanyuki hotel.
London has consistently stated that it will assist the Kenyan probe, which has not yet yielded any conclusions that are known to the public.