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No, these folks can’t go back ‘home’ yet

Publication Date: 3/14/2008

The subject of the 350,000 internally displaced persons who have been living in makeshift camps in various parts of the country is a very sensitive one indeed.

These Kenyans are in those camps, not of their own volition, but because they were branded ‘‘outsiders’’ by their compatriots and forced to flee for their lives, even as their homes were set ablaze.

Right now, there are reports that life inside those camps is absolutely miserable, despite the concerted efforts of humanitarian organisations to alleviate the suffering. But even then, few of the uprooted people want to return to their ‘‘homes’’. 

What is the point of trying to reassure them that peace has returned to those areas from where they were evicted when they know nothing could be further from the truth?

After all, very few people have actually been punished for committing murder, pillage, arson and rape, and impunity reigns supreme.

How then do you tell a person whose children escaped death only by the grace of God to take them back to places where predators have turned hunting and killing fellow Kenyans into a blood-sport?

Helping the displaced persons to return to their ‘‘homes’’ would be the best and neatest of all possible solutions, but until security is guaranteed for all, a feat no government on earth can possibly achieve, then pleas, including those made by President Kibaki to the displaced to return ‘‘home’’ are utterly futile.

The only way to go about it is for a political settlement to be entrenched, followed by concerted civic education that will preach the sanctity of life and virtues of co-existence. This is part of the national healing process which is supposed to start immediately.

The resettlement of the displaced was one of the items on the agenda during the negotiations that preceded the signing of the power-sharing agreement. 

It is still far from being concluded one way or the other, and is, in fact, listed as a long-term objective. 

Why then should the President, and others, jump the gun by telling people who are already traumatised to go back, without a credible assurance of security?

Let us get our priorities right. We should be thinking of short-term measures to make the lives of these unfortunate beings a lot more bearable.

Write to the author

About SG

Secretary general of Chama Cha Mwananchi. This blog www.chamachamwananchi.wordpress.com, is based in Sweden.


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