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Some 196 Lamu East locals have acquired national identification cards.

Program for Legal Empowerment and Aid Delivery (PLEAD) project facilitated the drive.

Twenty-six others replaced their lost documents. More are recording their details.

The monthly registration began in January 2021.

The government in 2013 stopped ID registration along the Lamu-Somalia border. It claimed Al-Shabaab militants would infiltrate, pose as Kenyans, acquire IDs, and stage terror attacks.

Many undocumented youths got caught up in the crisis. Security agents arbitrarily harassed and detained them. Media and our investigations showed disappearances, and extrajudicial executions surged.

Non-registered youths could not be employed or access critical government services. Livelihoods were cut when authorities arrested undocumented fisherfolks at sea.

It was a continuation of historic marginalization. The region became symptomatic of damages brought by deadly security operations.

Despite the government freeze, MUHURI advocated and facilitated the acquisition of IDs. The law demands compulsory identification, registration, and issuance of these documents to Kenyans aged 18 and beyond.

Efforts by MUHURI, initiated through several programs, including a 2018 donor-funded project, culminated in the PLEAD drive, allowing hundreds to obtain IDs.

PLEAD added impetus in 2021, giving locals economic, pollical, and social power through acquisition of IDs. Photo: MUHURI.

The 2018 clinic was courtesy of the Counter Violence Extremism (CVE) project sponsored by the German Embassy. Some 185 locals, following years of exclusion, received IDs.

The government in 2019, after a six-year hiatus, gradually resumed registration, not after causing untold suffering.

PLEAD brought impetus in 2021, giving locals economic, political, and social power.

Mkokoni, Basuba, Kiunga, Siu, Pate, Kiwayuu, and Kiangwi had most registrations in Lamu East. The constituency is cut off from the Westside—where government offices and registration services are centred—by the vast sea. It makes PLEAD drive unique in terms of logistical arrangement and time.

Cooperation and coordination between various stakeholders, including elders, security personel, and county and local administrators, especially registrar of person Wilson Onyango, have complemented our efforts.

PLEAD continues strengthening access to justice and promoting human rights for the poor and marginalized communities in Lamu. The European Union (EU), through UNDP Amkeni Wakenya, supports the project.

Mohammed Gumo is a Project Officer at MUHURI. He leads the PLEAD project.

Editing by Ernest Cornel.

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