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WE FEAR FOR OUR LIVES SAY IDPS

We won’t go back, say scared refugees

Story by NATION Team
Publication Date: 5/7/2008

The resettlement of internal refugees Tuesday hit a snag after a group said they did not want to go back to their homes due to insecurity fears.

Some of the post election violence victims who were taken back to their farms in Molo yesterday camping at Karirikania PAG Church where they were waiting to erect their tents. The residents complained of hunger and thirst since they left Molo Town on Monday.Photos/ JOSEPH KIHERI

Others complained that they had been abandoned outside church compounds and administration centres without food or shelter.

Some who were taken from Molo camp to their homes are reported to have walked back to the camps saying they were hungry and cold.

However, a Nation team that visited parts of Molo witnessed security officials patrolling farms belonging to some of the returning refugees.

The problems mainly affected refugees in Nakuru and Eldoret who were to be returned to their homes Tuesday. Also affected were people who were resettled on their farms from a camp in Molo on Monday.

But the resettlement appeared to have gone on well in Kitale.

Had not eaten

Mrs Mary Bonareri Nyaosi, who was  at Langweda Trading Centre in Molo, said she was cold and starving as she had not eaten anything for two days.

She said the last meal she took was a plain cup of tea in Molo Town before they were transported to Langweda.

Mrs Nyaosi said she and more than 200 other refugees spent the night in a nearby church where they laid down their tents and covered themselves with blankets, which they had received from Kenya Red Cross while at the camp.

“It is as if we were being chased out of the camp. We were not given anything to eat or water for drinking, yet the Government expects us to survive in this cold area,” she said. Confusion and uncertainty marked the second day of the government exercise to resettle thousands of displaced people camping at the Eldoret ASK show ground.

Matters were made worse following the delay of the arrival of a government delegation led by Rift Valley PC Noor Hassan Noor.

The displaced people held consultations and brainstorming meetings for the better part of the morning. Strong sentiments against the imminent repatriation were aired.

By noon, there were no visible signs of government, and the displaced had little hopes of returning to their farms by the end of the day. Lorries expected to ferry them were nowhere to be seen.

“Why are they ignoring our sentiments and resorting to forcing resolutions down our throats? We are the victims and our views have to be considered,” said an angry woman.

Top on their demands list prior to any resettlement is compensation and a clear   security plan once on the farms. The absence of houses in the farms made many reconsider going back just yet.

“Where we are going there are farms without houses. Will this not make it easy for our neighbours to attack us once again?” asked a young man who refused to identify himself.

However, differences among the displaced came to the fore as some argued that those hesitant to return had no farms. They alleged that those who rented houses or lived in forest land feared they would not be compensated.

Without food

In interviews, the internal refugees said they spent Monday night in the cold without food. They claimed that they were dumped near their former homes.

The displaced people said they drank only a plain cup of tea before they were transported from Molo camp on Monday morning.

A spot check by the Nation team found that more than 700 displaced people were ferried and left at Karirikania Kenya Assemblies of God Church and Langweda trading centre.

Mr Bernard Tonui, a resident, said that they were ready to welcome back their neighbours.

Rev Mwangi said it was wrong for the Government to hurriedly remove them from the camps only to dump them near their farms without food or shelter.

He said the local administration had done nothing to help them since they arrived on Monday.

The victims, however, said there was tight security since there were army camps right next to where they had been dropped.

Several Administration Police officers were living with the victims at Karirikania KAG Church.

But Rift Valley provincial commissioner Noor Hassan Noor said Tuesday evening that the resettlement plan was on course and denied media reports it had hit a sang.

The PC who visited Nation offices in Nakuru Town shortly after 6pm said he was prompted to issue a statement to correct a news item flashed by NTV at 4.11pm, which, he said, was a misrepresentation of the facts.

He said the teams involved in the resettlement had been to Eldoret and other parts of the province to lay the necessary groundwork and that no problems had been encountered.

He said the reports were false and appealed to the media to be objective and avoid creating panic among the people.

Mr Noor said the Provincial Administration had done a lot in reconciling the communities in preparation for the return of displaced people and urged those who had fled their homes to go back.

The PC said he had spent the day in Uasin Gishu talking to the internal refugees and the local communities about resettlement. He said the refugees were ready to return to their farms while the neighbours had accepted them back.

About the lack of food, water and shelter among those who had returned to their farms, Mr Hassan said that sufficient food had been sent to the ground to be distributed to the affected people.

‘‘They will all get their rations Thursday morning. There will be enough for all of them,’’ said the administrator.

He said the people claiming they had no food were not genuine refugees, but opportunists who had moved into camps to get relief supplies.

Shouting loudest

“Those who are shouting the loudest are not genuine IDPs, they want the camps to stay longer so that they can continue benefiting,” said the PC.

Even as the complaints about food were going on, officers from the army were busy renovating Karirikania primary school, which was destroyed during the violence.

Chiefs and their assistants will be required to hold at least three meetings a week to promote bonding among members of various ethnic communities.

Molo district officer Katee Mwanza assured the returning families at Kiambogo farm that the  administration will monitor their situation on a daily basis.
 
Reported by Wanjiru Macharia and Lorraine Anyango

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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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