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Kenyan IDPs rendered paupers

Give priority to internal refugees

Publication Date: 3/21/2008

The dust is settling down after the passing of two Bills that paved the way for a new all-inclusive government last Tuesday. But several issues remain unresolved. Of immediate concern is resettling people who were displaced from their homes at the height of the post-election violence.

Although three months have passed, thousands of Kenyans still live in camps uncertain of when or whether they will return to their homes. With the political dispute largely concluded, the leaders might forget about the internal refugees. This is the reason why the issue must be highlighted.

The soon to be formed government must quickly come up with a well thought out strategy on dealing with the internal refugees. Whereas there are many who are ready to return to their homes, they have been rendered paupers after their property was destroyed or looted.

There are some who went through traumatic experiences and cannot go back to their former homes.

Telling them to return to those homes or farms evokes bad memories. An appropriate solution must be found for them.

In all the cases, the displaced need financial and material support to enable them settle down and start life afresh. Already, the Government has allocated some funds and the international community has made pledges to that effect. Coordination is critical in this respect, which is why a Resettlement Commission has been proposed. But it will take time before the commission is set up and starts work.

Some political leaders have suggested that in the short run, the Government should start discussions with members of communities where the displaced were evicted from to make them understand the principle of co-existence. This is a valid suggestion that should be considered seriously.

However, urgent measures must be taken to address the plight of the displaced. It would be insensitive and unfair for the political leaders to cut power-sharing deals and expect the country to celebrate when thousands of people are still languishing in camps.

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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