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Thousands go home

Story by NATION Team
Publication Date: 2008/05/06

Nearly 10,000 victims of the post-election violence were resettled in their homes as the process of ending the nightmare that started with December’s disputed presidential election got underway.

Internal refugees at Noigam camp in Cherangany, Trans Nzoia East District, wait to board army lorries to their homes at Geta farm in the district.

Six thousand were resettled in Molo, while 3,855 were taken back to their homes in Trans Nzoia District.

Some of the families returning home expressed fears over insecurity even as the refugees were ferried back home in military and National Youth Service trucks and private buses.

The Government has built police posts on some of the farms where the uprooted people were returning.

As the resettlement kicked off, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees transferred 1,600 Kenyans from  eastern to western Uganda. The agency said that another 200 who had volunteered to return to Kenya will be brought back on Friday.

And at the Nakuru Show Ground, where an estimated 14,000 have been camping, the internally displaced  people staged a protest complaining that they had been excluded from the recent visit by President Kibaki and the Prime Minister, Mr Raila Odinga.

More than 1,200 people died and 350,000 were displaced in the violence that ended on February 28 with the signing of a power-sharing agreement between President Kibaki and Mr Odinga.

Rift Valley provincial commissioner Noor Hassan Noor launched repatriation of 3,855 internal refugees in Trans Nzoia East District after witnessing a similar exercise of more than 6,000 victims in Molo. The PC, who was with Special Programmes permanent secretary Ali Mohammed and the chairman to the humanitarian and resettlement trust fund committee, retired Archbishop Ndingi Mwana a’Nzeki, addressed the refugees at Noigam where he called for reconciliation.

The administrator also kicked off rebuilding of houses destroyed during the violence at Geta Farm and distributed building materials to the victims.

Timber and nails

It included 25,000 pieces of iron sheet, tonnes of timber and nails.

He said the Government will beef up security and offer financial assistance to the victims to enable them buy household items damaged in the mayhem.

“Security personnel including regular and Administration policemen and the General Service Unit personnel have been posted to affected areas to ensure that law and order is maintained,” the PC said.

Six posts have been set up in various farms in Trans Nzoia East District.

But some uprooted people said their former neighbours were unwilling to accept them back.

“There has been cold reception from our former neighbours. We are uncertain about our security in the farms despite the deployment of more security officers,” Mr Bernard Omandi, 48, said.

Raised concern

Some of the victims raised concern that the Government had rushed the settlement before reconciliation.

“We have no otherwise but to vacate the camps since it is a government directive and some of our colleagues have already started going back,” said Ms Christine Moraa who was displaced from Matierio in Geta farm.

Most of those interviewed asked the Government to give them relief food and building materials.

“We have to start from scratch since we lost almost all our property during the clashes,”  said Ms Moraa.

At Kitale show ground, 5,589 refugees said they would not go back to their former land unless the Government conducts a security operation in Kwanza and Saboti constituencies to seize illegal firearms. They said that they had evidence that those who evicted them from their farms were in possession of firearms and vowed never to return.

Speaking to the Nation, their chairman, Mr John Shikuku, said going back to their farms before disarmament would expose them to great danger.

They criticised the Government for building a police post at Matisi area instead of Kalaha where the affected people had fled to.

They said Matisi Police Station was too close to Kitale Town.

“Why should we have a police post at Matisi, which is hardly three kilometres from Kitale Police Station and have none in Kalaha about 25 kilometres away where people were affected?” Mrs Nancy Wechuli posed. A survey by the Nation showed that none of the refugees at the camp were willing to leave for their farms.

There was no activity at Ruring’u Stadium in Nyeri,  which hosts a number of refugees.

Their spokesman, Mr Samuel Mugoy, said they will not return to their homes and asked the Government to give them alternative land.

Reported by Michael Njuguna, Patrick Nzioka and Barnabas Bii

About SG

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


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