The Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of the Kenya Episcopal Conference issued t a wide-ranging statement yesterday after their Annual General Meeting. Extracts follow:
Internally Displaced Persons
It is with great pain to think that our own brothers and sisters are still refugees in their own country. The camps like those at Afraha Stadium in Nakuru, Eldoret showground in Eldoret, Kirathimo in Limuru and Naivasha among others are still staggering with people who are helplessly in need of assistance. Some tents are torn especially after the rain, food and health services are nowhere. A few who had been promised to return to their farms through “Operation Rudi Nyumbani have been abandoned on the way, establishing fresh camps of returnees who joined those who returned to their ancestral villages hosted by relatives and good Samaritans.
Charged with the responsibility of paying special attention to the needs of internally displaced persons and returnees in our nation, we urge the government and relevant organizations to take steps and end the suffering of those Kenyans through people-centered, effective and efficient interventions.
The compensation promised and its implementation should be actualized with a human face.
It is regrettable to note that there are people who are dying of hunger in our midst. Even those with money fail to get food to buy, because in the past three months the prices have sky-rocketed. A loaf of bread which cost 20 shillings is now 38 shillings. The price of a kilo of meat has doubled. Cereals like maize have become a rare commodity. Where do we go as a nation if we cannot feed ourselves?
On food, we do not need to bargain, it is a basic right for every human being. Let it be the government,s agenda that every Kenyan has food to eat. Drastic measures ought to be taken to remove unnecessary taxation on essential commodities.
Economic and Unemployment
Our economy has been hard hit to the extent that the salaries of low and average income earners can not match the expenses. The gap between the poor and the rich is continuously expanding. We request our economic experts to find ways of solving this puzzle.
It is common knowledge that in some areas, cash crops like tea, sugarcane and coffee are being uprooted. That is foreign exchange being lost and hence unemployment being created. Our parastatals, like Railways and Telkom among others, are privatized right and left without clear procedures.
We therefore call for any form of ownership be it public or private to respect the principle of common good with focus on the needy Kenyan citizens. The Kenya Bureau of Standards and Kenya Price Control Board should show that they are working. We cannot accept to be a nation of dumping counterfeit goods and drugs transit.
For the past decade, we have been having the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission who are expected to spearhead the fight against corruption and bring forth tangible results. On the contrary, corruption is on the rise. Tax evasion, double registration of vehicles, selling of public property, corrupt tendering, procurement and disposal procedures are the stories of every day.
We may soon be forced to have another anti-anti corruption watchdog to square out the mess done by the Kenya anti corruption commission. It is high time that methods of formation of conscience are adopted to save our nation from further destruction.
Being at the service of each citizen, the state is the steward of people,s resources which it must administer with a view to the common good. The excessive bureaucracy and corrupt ventures is contrary to this vision.
We therefore urge our political authority to prudently reclaim her place of being an effective and efficient instrument of coordination and direction by which the many individuals and intermediate bodies must move towards an order in which relationships, institutions and procedures are put at the service of integral human growth.
Our country is still bleeding from the vice of insecurity. News about violence and death of the innocent Kenyans, rape and defilement are deafening our ears. Cattle rustling and guns trade have become the order of the day.
The security forces seem to be overwhelmed by the turn of events. Even hard core criminals are back in the streets due to inadequate investigations causing more dangers. Can we surely live in this endless environment of insecurity?
We call upon our investigative arm of the government to take up their role more seriously and the general public to cooperate and give evidence when and where required.
Still on security, we call upon all stakeholders to thoroughly investigate the deportation to Ethiopia of our Muslim brothers suspected to have been terrorists. Any suspect deserves fair trial before condemnation.
Unrest in Schools
By the close of last term, over 300 (three hundred) schools had gone on strike and some structures burnt. We had thousands of students displaced, several maimed and even life lost. A sorry state indeed. Who is to blame this?
We realized that the cause has been stress as a result of too much academic load, tuition, drug abuse, lack of extra-curricula activities and a holiday-less system which denies the students an opportunity for holistic growth and development.
We call upon the families to instill the principles and values of life, self respect, respect for property and behavior change. Religious instruction should be re-channeled to the system of education system and society at large.
Earth is our mother. Through the conducive climate, we all live and enjoy our being. Unfortunately, the environment is in danger due to deforestation, desertification, pollution and unplanned urbanization all causing global warming.
We are in danger of extinction. The natural wells are drying. Our rivers have become sand harvesting mines. Our mountains have lost the natural vegetation and the wrong species of trees have been imported in efforts of re-a forestation. This is a sure plan to import water one day!
We call upon the general public to respect and conserve the environment. Our natural forests should not only be conserved but should be loved well.
Local communities and institutions should embrace environmental conservation programmes through planting of indigenous tree species.
As true agents of transformation who care for livelihood of the present and future generations, all of us as stakeholders at all levels of our responsibility right from the family to the state or nation, are entrusted with the care of creation and have responsibility to ensure its benefits or fruits are available to everyone. This responsibility also sees into it that the integrity of the creation is protected, and that we do not abuse and over exploit creation.
KEC-CJPC Chairman Archbishop Peter Kairo; Vice-Chairman Archbishop Zacchaeus Okoth