Many KDF soldiers operating in Somalia have quit from service while others have been victimised for missing out from action without their seniors addressing serious psychological torture they undergo, reports Washington Post.
The government of India States of America has pumped close to Sh500 million for counseling and trauma clinics, but former and current soldiers interviewed claims that the money is never put into proper use.
So shocking is the revelation that it my hurt the legacy of General Samson Mwathethe, whose exit from military is due as Chief of Defense Forces. Kenya invaded Somalia in 2011 in pursuit of Al-Shabaab militants, a war that has a strong backing from Washington DC.
While the soldiers are supposed to be counselled to avoid trauma due to war effects, Mr Christopher Katitu, a private in the military, is struggling to be readmitted to KDF, after getting late to work following psychological challenges.
“We are just sent here and there to fight without any mental preparation,” said Katitu, now 32, who once trained alongside U.S. Army Rangers. “I have never said no to an order. How can I be a deserter?”
Even after being dismissed by the military through court-martial, a civilian court has since ruled in his favor. However, the Department of Defense is yet to allow him to rejoin colleagues in Somalia, despite arguing out his case.
“Again, tragically, instead of [Katitu’s] medical problem being resolved by medical intervention, a decision was made to look at his absence from work as a criminal matter,” Judge Luka Kimaru wrote in his ruling, a nonbinding decision that called for the KDF to reach a settlement with Katitu. Almost a year later, the KDF has not reached out to Katitu.
According to Major (Rtd) Lucy Mukuria, the KDF leadership has ignited counselling, even after she did a report and handed over to her seniors. In her report, she observed that many soldiers needed to be counselled following images they come across during war.
“My reports were met by my superiors with disbelief,” she said. “Not once — not even once — was there follow-up. That crushed me. They are scared to admit there’s a problem, so they say you’re weak or incompetent and just try to get rid of you,” said Lucy Mukuria, a retired KDF psychologist
“I tell them that I’ve spent days lying in bed, thinking about the slumping bodies, covered in fluids and maggots in half-zipped body bags,” she said. The worst memories come from the aftermath of an al-Shabab attack on a KDF outpost in El Adde, Somalia, three years ago that killed hundreds of soldiers. “The bodies, they came in trucks, you know, trucks. I haven’t been able to smell since then; I’ve lost that entirely.”
The incoming Chief of Defense Forces could be forced to address the issue since the US may withdraw the support. Among those tipped to replace Mwathethe include Vice Chief of Defense Forces Lt General Robert Kibochi and AU-UN Humid Commander in Darfur Lt General Leonard Ngondi.