IDPs at the Mathare Chief’s camp in Nairobi. Photo: Allan Gichigi/IRI
NAIROBI, 22 July 2008 (IRIN) – Hundreds of Kenyans displaced during post-election violence in early 2008 in the capital, Nairobi, are still in camps more than two months after the government launched a countrywide resettlement programme.
“Many of the displaced were tenants whose houses were destroyed or have since been occupied by other people; dozens were landlords, mostly in the Mathare slums, and these are the ones whose resettlement is difficult,” Abdi Galgalo, the chief of Mathare, told IRIN on 21 July.
Anthony Mwangi, the public relations manager for the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS), knew of 778 IDPs in the city.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA-Kenya) said in an update covering 3-9 July that some 59,666 IDPs remained in 89 IDP camps, while 98,289 others had been registered in 134 transit sites across the country. Government figures indicated that 212,590 IDPs had returned to areas where they had been displaced.
The government, through the ministry of special programmes, launched “Operation Rudi Nyumbani” (Return Home) on 5 May, targeting at least 158,000 IDPs in camps across the country, most of them in Rift Valley Province, which bore the brunt of the violence.
With more than 85,000 of the displaced having left the camps since then, the government began the “reconstruction” phase of the programme on 20 July, to help the returnees build their homes and restart subsistence activities. Special Programmes Minister Naomi Shaban launched the programme in Uasin Gishu district in the Rift Valley.
Displaced in the city
Galgalo said the IDP camp near his office had been emptying gradually since May, with 213 IDPs in July.
The problem with IDPs in urban areas, he said, was that the majority were from slum areas where land disputes were common, hence their reluctance to move out of the camps.
Hundreds of Kenyans were displaced during post-election violence in early 2008 in Nairobi Photo: Julius Mwelu/IRIN
“Food and availability of medicine are key problems for those still in the camp as they depend on well-wishers and they remain here as efforts are being made to resettle them,” Galgalo said.
He said disputes over land in the slums, especially for those who owned houses, had complicated and slowed the IDPs’ return to their homes. He added that the government had set up peace-building committees to help reconcile the slum dwellers and encourage the displaced to return home.
Godfrey Ngugi, the chairman of the IDP camp in Mathare, said the recent cold weather had made conditions even more difficult.
“The major problem for us is when one of the IDPs falls ill; the cold season has not helped matters and we have had cases of cold-related ailments increasing,” Ngugi said. “Although we have the Kenya Red Cross assisting us, we need medical attention.”
He said there were dozens of children under five who need medical attention due to the cold.
On 12 May, the government raised Ksh1.46 billion (US$22.4 million) of the Ksh30 billion ($462 million) it said it needed to resettle at least 350,000 IDPs.
“The magnitude of the destruction caused by the violence was enormous; we will therefore require about 30 billion shillings to meet the full costs of resettlement, including reconstruction of basic housing, replacement of household effects, as well as rehabilitation of community utilities and institutions destroyed during the violence,” President Mwai Kibaki said on 12 May during a funding drive in Nairobi.
Action on behalf of justice is a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the gospel.
Justice in the World – 1971 Synod of Bishops