British High Commission refutes alleged abduction of Samburu boy

British Army Training in Kenya
British Army Training in Kenya

The British High Commission in Kenya has refuted reports in the media that a Samburu boy was abducted by British troops in Kenya.

The statement states that rather than being abducted, he was airlifted by the British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK) to Kanyuki Cottage Hospital (NCH) for further specialist surgery following a serious injury at Archers Post Training Area, with the agreement of both the Head Doctor at Wamba and the child’s father.

The statement in full reads:

The British High Commission is aware of the incident at Archers Post Training Area which resulted in the serious injury of the ten year old child to which you refer.

The incident is being investigated by the Archers Post Kenyan Police Service, assisted by the Kenya Defence Forces and British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK), and whilst this investigation is in its early stages, initial indications are that the child’s injuries were caused by unexploded ammunition (UXO) left within the live-firing impact area. The investigation remains ongoing and has yet to establish whether the UXO was of Kenyan or British origin.

Most importantly the High Commission extends its deepest sympathy to both the victim and family and will remain fully engaged until the investigation is complete.

Concerning the sequence of events, contrary to media reports, the child was not abducted by British troops. As a follow up to the initial life-saving first aid administered to the injured child by British troops, Commander BATUK visited the injured child in Wamba hospital in order to assess his immediate and future medical needs and how BATUK might be able to assist the local authorities in meeting these.

The Head Doctor of Wamba hospital confirmed that at that stage his patient was stable, initial surgery had gone well and he was receiving everything that he needed. He stated that he would at some stage require more specialist treatment in a larger hospital, and Commander BATUK therefore established a direct link between Wamba Hospital’s Head Doctor and his own unit Medical Officer in order to scope the options for assisting with this.

As a result, on Friday 13 November, with the agreement of the Head Doctor at Wamba and the child’s father, he was airlifted by BATUK to Nanyuki Cottage Hospital (NCH) for further specialist surgery. This has reportedly been successful and the child remains at NCH with his father, and is currently undergoing a course of antibiotic treatment. BATUK’s Senior Medical Officer is acting as the point of contact between NCH and Wamba hospital.

All funding for the child’s treatment at both Wamba and NCH hospitals has been provided through voluntary donations from BATUK personnel, their families and exercising British troops.

More generally, in order to prevent incidents of this nature occurring, the UK conducts an annual partnered clearance exercise with the Kenyan Army Engineer Branch to locate and safely dispose of unexploded ammunition. A part of this exercise involves an outreach programme into the local Samburu communities and villages to educate on the danger posed by the UXO and what to do if it is discovered. This exercise is due to be formalised and cemented into the new Defence Co-operation Agreement currently in the final stages of signature between Kenya and the UK.

Finally, BATUK will continue to co-operate fully and transparently with the investigation and give all appropriate support to the victim and his family.