Insecurity & Education Hold Kenyan IDPs in Camps

Posted on 24 June 2008. Filed under: Governance, Humanitarian, Insecurity, Refugees/ IDPs |


Photo: Julius Mwelu/IRIN
Samuel Karanja at Naivasha stadium camp for internally displaced Kenyans

NAIVASHA, 24 June 2008 (IRIN) – Samuel Karanja was a resident of Narok North district in Kenya’s Rift Valley Province until he was displaced in the post-election violence this year.

Karanja, a former shop-owner, has spent the past six months in two internally displaced persons (IDP) camps; first in the town of Gilgil, later in neighbouring Naivasha. Gilgil and Naivasha are both in Rift Valley Province.

“We were camping on private property [in Gilgil] so we were forced to leave,” he said. “Those who had shambas [small farms] went back while the rest of us business people who owned no land had to leave.”

He said he was not willing to leave the camp, despite the resettlement of most IDPs, as he had nowhere else to go.

“I would not want to return … people died before my eyes. I would rather stay here but live in peace,” he said.

Karanja’s situation is common among hundreds of IDPs who remain reluctant to return to their former homes. Most want help to restart their lives elsewhere.

The IDP spokesman at the Naivasha Stadium camp, John Mathias, told IRIN: “There is still a lot of hostility lingering in the places we came from.” IDPs were concerned about security in the areas of return.

With some camps scheduled to close down in the coming weeks, Mathias said the IDPs had not refused to leave, rather “it is the treatment the IDPs [who left] received upon their return that has made us not eager to join them”.


Photo: Julius Mwelu/IRIN
Internally displaced Kenyans listening to officials during a meeting at Naivasha camp

At least 4,411 IDPs remained in two camps in Naivasha out of 11,000 at the peak of the post-election crisis.

Resettlement programmes

“Nobody is going to be forced to resettle unless it is verified [in consultation with the local communities] that the situation is peaceful,” the assistant minister for special programmes, Mohamud Ali Mohamed said.

Mohamed said the government would facilitate the resettlement in addition to providing food and transport.

An estimated 201,022 IDPs had been resettled with 40,411 still in camps, according to the director of resettlements, Wilfred Ndolo. The Molo area had recorded the highest returns – 43,277 out of an initial 55,000.

The government was also providing 10,000 shillings (US$166) in start-up funds. So far, 2,500 households in Kipkelion, in Rift Valley Province, had benefited.

The government set aside 700 million shillings ($11.6 million) for 70,000 households.

“We have only been paying those who have gone back to their farms,” Ndolo said. The government would also provide the IDPs with food aid for the next six months until the harvest season, he said.

Rebuilding efforts

The Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) has started rebuilding houses for returnees in parts of the north Rift at $1,000 per two-bedroom house, according to the secretary-general, Abbas Gullet.

So far, 10 houses have been reconstructed by the KRCS in the Matharu area of the Rift Valley with plans for another 1,000.

“The houses were built from scratch by the two communities [the Kikuyu and Kalenjin], promoting good relations between the two,” Anthony Mwangi, the KRCS public relations manager, said.


Photo: Julius Mwelu/IRIN
Monica Mumbi talking about the plight of IDPs at Naivasha

In answer to complaints about lack of medical facilities, Mwangi said each IDP camp had a mobile clinic; those that did not provided clear instructions on where IDPs could seek treatment. Psycho-social counselling services were also available, he said.

Education a factor

According to an update by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), uncertainties over access to education in areas of return had contributed to IDPs’ reluctance to leave the camps.

In Eldoret, children were being left behind in schools by parents who felt their education would suffer if they moved on. Similarly, parents in the Nakuru showground camp were reluctant to move because they did not want their children to leave the schools they were attending, OCHA stated.

The lack of teachers was also a problem.

Meanwhile, KRCS, World Food Programme and other partners continued to provide food aid to 180,000 IDPs in camps and areas of return in parts of Kenya affected by the violence.

KRCS was also providing farming tools and seeds to returnees.

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    A blog created to cover environmental and political information in Kenya with a view to promoting POVERTY ALLEVIATION through creating awareness of the Millennium Development Goals

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