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NO ROOM AT THE INN – REFUGEES IN KENYA

Kenya’s ‘Internally Displaced People’ – Another Christmas under canvass

The festive season has kicked in and the Christmas mood is already being felt in Nairobi especially after the long weekend that Kenyans just enjoyed thanks to Jamhuri Day which happened to fall on a Monday. Shopping malls, hotels and supermarkets have already invested in their yearly decorations as well as special offers to entice customers as ‘the spending month’ is here.

The majority of people have planned their holidays and for some families, as others howl of tough economic times, time and not money is their only obstacle to having a blast this Christmas.

All is not merry however, for a section of Kenyans who have nothing to celebrate about this Christmas as they will be spending it again, just as they have done for the last three to four years – in IDP camps.

‘INTERNALLY DISPLACED PEOPLE’

Following the disputed 2007 elections, around 400,000 people became ‘internally displaced people’ (IDPs). The government has promised ever since to resettle all the IDPS but it has never met its deadlines. According to government records, 2,171 families have so far been resettled but there are still hundreds of IDPS in camps.

The government’s efforts to resettle IDPS have always been hit by numerous setbacks. There has been stand-offs when residents in some parts of the

Special Programmes Minister Esther Mirugi

country e.g. the Trans Nzoia and Narok counties have opposed plans to bring in post-election violence victims into what they call their ‘ancestral land’. Identifying genuine IDPS has also been cited as a major problem.

The government has also been accused of handing out money to fake IDPS at the expense of genuine ones and money meant to resettle IDPS has found its

way in politician’s pockets (surprise!) which makes the Forum wonder, do these people have a heart?

FIVE YEARS LATER

The government had pledged to resettle all IDPS by the latest this month but Special Programmes Minister Esther Murugi announced last week that the remaining IDPS will now be settled next year.

2012 is an election year in the country, and as spelt out in the new constitution the election date is officially August 14, although parliament has been trying to push the election date to December 17, the High Court is yet to rule on the matter.

It is clear that by the time Kenyans go to the ballot there will still be IDPS in camps. It’s a shame indeed for the government which brought all this on its people, that (by then) five years after the post election violence, they will not have not done enough to alleviate the refugee situation. It’s sadly ironic that these are some of the same people who hope to form the next government.

Zimbabwe military press conference

Raila Odinga Speech at the CSIS Washington DC, USA

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