The British Army Training Unit in Kenya (Batuk) Monday, November 14, defended its use of white phosphorus during military drills in Kenya, clarifying that it is only used under strict safety precautions.
The chemical which has been a cause of concern to environmentalists and pastoralist communities in Laikipia and Samburu counties is used for night illumination during training.
Though not banned as a weapon, the chemical can cause fire to rain down on targets, inflicting indiscriminate damage.
International laws require that it should not be used in areas occupied by civilians.Fire seen at Loldaiga Ranch in Laikipia County.Kenyans.co.ke
Herdsmen from Losesia village in Samburu East fear that the chemical might find its way to water points or residues washed into their grazing field.
The use of white phosphorus raised concerns at the height of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, with President Volodymyr Zelensky accusing Russian soldiers of using chemical weapons on civilians.
However, Adrian Weale, Batuk’s community and media liaison officer, told journalists on Monday, November 14, that Kenyans residing in areas bordering training grounds have nothing to fear because all the required safety standards have been put in place.
“We do train with it when conditions allow. If it is very dry and windy, we do not use it because it can start a fire. In terms of its environmental impact, it is no different from other high explosives used by other militaries across the world,” Major Weale stated.
The UK and Kenya have a long history of working together, enabling troops to head out on operations and exercises and countering threats across the globe.
About 3,000 British soldiers visit Kenya every year for training, with exercises taking place in the Lolldaiga Conservancy in Laikipia County and Archers Post in Samburu County.
Community members living around the Lolldaiga Conservancy have in the past been embroiled in a legal tussle with Batuk over a fire sparked during military training exercises that destroyed more than 10,000 acres of land.
A liaison committee was formed by the Kenyan and United Kingdom governments and allowed community members to seek compensation for the fire that occurred in March 2021.
The British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK) is a permanent training support unit based mainly in Nanyuki, north of Nairobi.
It consists of around 100 permanent staff and a cohort of another 280 temporary personnel. BATUK employs 500+ full-time Kenyans and delivers over 60 projects to support the local community every year.Soldiers climb into a military truck during a simulated military exercise of the British Army Training Unit in Kenya.Kenyans.co.keweapon fire fire.
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