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DEATH CAMPS

Diseases looms in camps

Story by BARNABAS BII and GEORGE OMONDI
Publication Date: 2008/03/25

Thousands of internal refugees in various camps in the North Rift region are at risk of possible outbreak of contagious diseases following the onset of long rains.

Kenya Red Cross Society’s Regional manager, Mr Patrick Nyongesa, yesterday said the more than 13,000 people camping at the Eldoret Showground may be re-located to safer areas due to fears of floods.

“We are likely to experience health hazards at the Eldoret showground camp due to the high water table which is likely to result in floods as long rains starts,” said Mr Nyongesa.

He however said drainage systems would be constructed in the affected camps and more health personnel deployed to sensitise the victims on proper hygiene.

Compensated

Mr Nyongesa said most of the victims were unwilling to re-settle on their farms permanently due to fears that they may not be compensated for the losses incurred during the post-election violence.

“Although some of the victims who had moved out have returned following the resumption of relative peace in the region, most of them are unwilling to resettle in their farms due to fears that they will not be compensated,” said Mr Nyongesa.

Most of those returning had moved to areas beyond Nakuru and Naivasha while others had moved to Kisii.

Mr Nyongesa said more than 5,200 victims were camping at the Timboroa while over 8,000 others were at Endebess camp in Trans-Nzoia West District.

He said some victims at Naikam had returned to their Geta farm ready to embark on this season’s planting activities.

Some of the victims interviewed at the Eldoret showground asked the government to guarantee them security and speed up compensation process before they returned to their farms.

“We are willing to go back to our farms as long as the government provides us with maximum security and compensates for the losses,” said Mr James Maina.

The Government had pledged to provide farm inputs to the internal refugees to enable them resume their agricultural activities.

In Nakuru, members of the Kenya Peace Initiative have accused politicians of double standards in dealing with the internal refugees’ situation.

Speaking in Nakuru during a peace meeting, KPI member Mr Njeru Kathangu accused politicians of duping Kenyans into treating the camps as “human zoos”.

“It is not a bad thing to give donations to the internally displaced. Kenyans must know that IDP camps are not human zoos to visit during free time but should stand as painful reminder of political failure and hatred that must be done away with as a matter of urgency,” he said.

He said the political class continued to brush aside the issue of land because they are the leading landlords who have refused to subdivide their huge chunks of land to the landless.

KPI has been holding peace meetings alongside Prof Wangari Maathai’s Greenbelt Movement.

Post-election violence

“Of the 6,000 locations countrywide, 3,500 were directly affected by the post-election violence. To reach everybody, we must talk to representatives of parties or religions to help us spread the message of peace to the grassroots,” said Mr Kathangu.

The group said they had intensified peace activities on the realisation that the power sharing deal signed by President Mwai Kibaki and Mr Raila Odinga was not a panacea for harmonious existence in the country. 

“Even if contending parties shared the political positions on 50-50 basis, how will that cool off the tempers on the ground?” posed Mr Joseph Gichuru, a Nakuru politician who attended the KPI meeting. 

On Saturday, Prof Maathai told a peace gathering in Nakuru that the Greenbelt Movement would continue holding its peace tents until a borderless Rift Valley Province was achieved.

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About SG

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

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