Kenya: Refugees Protest At ‘Neglect’
The Nation (Nairobi)
22 March 2008
Posted to the web 21 March 2008
About 200 internal refugees on Friday marked their Easter on a Nairobi street after walking out of a camp in Limuru.
The refugees walked from their Kirathimo Community Nutrition Centre camp protesting against the Government’s failure to address their plight.
They pitched tent on Kimathi Street next to Nation Centre vowing to stay put until the Government addressed their problems.
“Although life is now difficult at the camp since it has rained and the ground where we lay our heads is wet, our main problem is the Government since it has forgotten us,” said Mr Joseph Kuria.
He explained that Molo area, where most of them came from, is still insecure yet the Government had been urging them to return.
Since the long rains have started, Mr Kuria said, the internal refugees were anxious to know their fate.
“We had farms, where we should be planting now. But we are a worried because if we don’t utilise the rains, it will mean another season of poverty and begging,” Mr Kuria said.
The refugees are victims of the post-election violence that hit several parts of the country following disputed presidential results.
What the refugees want the Government to do is to guarantee them security and facilitate their return to their farms to make use of the rains or to resettle them elsewhere.
They said they are farmers who should not rely on charity when there is peace in the country as the Government has been claiming.
The refugees vowed not to return to Kirathimo, saying if the Government did not address their problem they would look for an alternative solution, which they declined to disclose.
“We cannot continue with this kind of misery. If the Government cannot guarantee us security, there are other means of survival we can turn to but we will not live again as beggars,” Mr Kuria declared.
They said they left Kirathimo on Thursday morning with their children and braved a heavy downpour that caught them around Westlands area.
“We had to seek shelter at a hotel but we were later thrown out and decided to continue with the journey,” Ms Mary Wangari said.
She said they left about 50 of their colleagues on the way after they were unable to continue with the journey.
Molo MP Joseph Kiuna said it was disturbing that the Government had delayed re-settling the refugees.