Kenyan boy lost guns in UK war game
Lisoka Lesasuyan was playing with friends in a field when suddenly her life changed. A fireball exploded his arms, punctured his right eye and marked his chest. He was 13 years old.
The explosion occurred in 2015 at Archer’s Post, a vast bush near iconic Mount Kenya. British and local troops regularly practice live fire in the area and sometimes their ammunition does not explode.
Lisoka was the latest in a long line of casualties to fall prey to a problem the military knows it has: unexploded ordnance or UXO. In 2002 the UK Ministry of Defense (MOD) made a multi-million pound investment payment to hundreds of Kenyans bereaved or injured by UXO around Archer’s Post.
Pledges were made to prevent this from happening again and an annual debris sweep was put in place. But Lisoka’s shocking injuries, the extent of which we report for the first time, shows that the danger has not gone away.
A Kenyan court decision, seen by Declassified, shows that in 2018 a judge ordered the British military to pay Lisoka’s father around £ 67,000 in compensation. Ten percent went straight to his “maintenance” as a minor.
The remainder was placed in a joint account with the court to be “used from time to time for medical expenses”. Lisoka needed the money for a doctor to fit and adjust bionic arms, as well as an ocular prosthesis.
Surgery to correct the scars on the face and chest, as well as occupational therapy, were also ordered.
Last night, a MOD spokesperson said Declassified: “The incident was investigated by the Kenyan Police Service, assisted by the Kenyan Defense Force and the British Army Kenya Training Unit.
“The investigation failed to conclusively establish whether the unexploded ordnance that caused the child’s injuries was of Kenyan or British origin.
They confirmed: “An amicable settlement was reached without admission of liability and payment was made to the family of the injured child in June 2018. The High Commissioner and the MOD express their deepest condolences to the family.
In rendering her decision, Judge Mary Kasango said Lisoka could “request a reconsideration if the circumstances may make it necessary.” Lisoka is now an adult and lives in a hut in a remote arid area 64 km north of Mount Kenya. The region is populated by Samburu nomads.
He had difficulty accessing compensation funds and believes that the judgment did not go far enough. Together with his brother Joshua, he enlisted the help of a Kenyan campaign group, the African Center for Corrective and Preventive Action (ACCPA).
Joshua told ACCPA researchers who visited the family this week that Lisoka was “almost dead on the spot” when they found him. “His right eye was out and was lying on the ground,” he said.
ACCPA President Macharia Mwangi said Declassified that Lisoka wants to appeal the court ruling. “He is against the entire judgment and sentence on the grounds that it does not adequately resolve his desperate condition and facilitate his adjustment to his new life,” Mwangi said.
The activist added: “Due to the seriousness of the injuries, his education was interrupted and he has not been able to attend any special school since. A once talented athlete, he can only dream of the medals and distinctions he would have deserved for his condition.
“Her happy and jovial life has now turned into grief and agony. He has been through so much emotional turmoil and torture as he tries to adjust to his new condition.
Official guidelines for UK judges suggest Lisoka’s compensation could be much higher if her claim goes to a UK court. The Judicial College says ‘total loss of one eye’ alone can be assessed as high as £ 62,000. This is almost as much as Lisoka received for all of her injuries.
At the time of the incident, media reported that an anonymous Kenyan boy was “kidnapped” by British soldiers. British diplomats issued a declaration denying the kidnapping request and clarified that he had been airlifted to hospital.
Diplomats admitted there had been a “serious injury” which required “life-saving first aid” from British troops, followed by “specialized surgery”. But they did not detail the extent of the injuries.
Instead, they said the victim was “stable” and “undergoing antibiotic treatment”.
In reality, Lisoka had suffered life-changing injuries – something he doesn’t want others to go through. ACCPA believes the litigation could “create a priority for the future of anyone else who may fall victim to the continued negligence of British forces training in the region.”
Lisoka wants an apology and more action taken to stop the military exercises on the communal pastures. Last September, British troops told Samburu herders to move their families and animals to “be careful»During an exercise.
The problem is well known. An army Blog said in 2017: “A lot of people who live in this area are pastors; they may not have been to school and they may not speak Swahili… on training days we have to go out and warn them so that they don’t get caught in real gunfire.
Part of a model
Mwangi says Lisoka’s ordeal is far from the only incident facing the British military. At the start of this year, British troops accidentally unleashed a series of six bush fires.
The largest has ravaged the Lolldaiga Game Reserve in north-central Kenya. It burned nearly 50 square kilometers.
ACCPA is participating in a class action lawsuit with 1,496 people whose lands and livelihoods have been affected. Plaintiffs include Karen Gatwiri whose husband Linus was crushed to death while trying to put out the blaze.
A Kenyan court is expected to decide on November 24 whether it has jurisdiction to hear the claim. British government lawyers say no, claiming the British military enjoys “sovereign immunity”. This uncompromising approach to civil action stands in stark contrast to the UK’s stance on a more high-profile case.
Agnes Wanjiru was reportedly murdered by a British soldier in 2012, but the culprit was able to leave Kenya without any consequences. UK defense ministers are now saying they are urgently cooperating with the Kenyan authorities to try to ensure justice is done.
It all comes at a delicate time in UK-Kenya relations, when an agreement allowing British troops to train there has just expired. Some Kenyan lawmakers, unhappy that no one has been arrested for Wanjiru’s murder, are threatening not to ratify the deal when it goes to their parliament.
This could spell the end of British troops in Kenya, who have continued to train in the country since gaining independence in 1963. Yet the deal could still be reached. The last time it was agreed, in December 2015, was just a month after Lisoka suffered her catastrophic injuries.
Defense chiefs have long stressed the importance of having access to Kenya’s rugged terrain. Commanders say he provides realistic training before deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq and even Northern Ireland.
However, Declassified saw a 1990 army document at the National Archives where an officer said training in Kenya “will be fun too”. A “secondary objective” of these exercises was, he said, to allow the soldiers “to take advantage of the unique opportunity to see much of Kenya, its wildlife and in particular its big game”. DM