UN Expert calls for renewed efforts to protect and assist Kenya’s internally displaced persons as essential to conflict resolution and peacebuilding

Source: United Nations Human Rights Council

Date: 27 May 2008

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UN Expert calls for renewed efforts to protect and assist Kenya’s internally displaced persons as essential to conflict resolution and peacebuilding


Nairobi and Geneva, 27 May 2008 – “At this crucial beginning of recovery, special efforts by the government, humanitarian agencies and the donors are essential if the return of those displaced by the post-election violence is to be sustainable and compatible with international human rights standards. In the absence of substantially increased efforts, we will jeopardize the fragile process of building and restoring of peace in displacement affected communities.” This is the main conclusion of Walter Kaelin, the Representative of the UN Secretary General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, at the conclusion of his working visit to Kenya, from 19 to 23 May 2008.

The Representative commended the Government of Kenya, the Kenyan Red Cross, the international humanitarian organizations and the people of Kenya for the effective assistance and support provided to those living in camps since they were displaced by the post-election violence of December 2007 and January 2008. Today, the government’s effort to return the displaced from camps to their fields and homes (Operation Rudi Nyumbani) create particular challenges. These challenges include ensuring that returns are safe and voluntary, providing humanitarian assistance in the areas of return and at the transit sites, and restoring full protection of the IDPs’ human rights in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. Continue reading

KENYA: Govt raises funds, resettlement ongoing despite hitches

KENYA: Govt raises funds, resettlement ongoing despite hitches


Photo: Manoocher Deghati/IRIN
Internally displaced persons (IDPs) at a camp in Eldoret, Rift Valley Province

NAIROBI, 13 May 2008 (IRIN) – The Kenyan government has raised Ksh1.46 billion (US$22.4 million) of the Ksh30 billion ($462 million) it says it needs to resettle at least 350,000 people displaced during the post-election crisis.

“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.

Kibaki helped to raise Ksh457,272,129 ($7 million), with donations mainly from government ministries and individual businesses, for the Humanitarian Fund for Mitigation of Effects and Resettlement of Victims of Post-2007 Election Violence.

On 5 May, the government launched a resettlement plan targeting 158,000 IDPs in camps across the country, which has seen some 85,000 IDPs resettled so far.
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KENYA: IDPs in Central reluctant to return to Rift Valley

KENYA: IDPs in Central reluctant to return to Rift Valley


Photo: Waweru Mugo/IRIN
Samuel Ngumo Kamau and wife, Teresia Muthoni, and their three-week old baby

RURING’U, 23 May 2008 (IRIN) – Samuel Ngumo Kamau cannot dispel the images of burning houses and Kenyans killing each other from his mind – a key factor in his decision not to return to his home of nearly four decades in Burnt Forest area in Rift Valley Province.

Kamau, a father of 10, who hails from Kamuyu Farm in Burnt Forest, has little trust in the government, which he accuses of “watching and doing nothing” while armed gangs violently ejected him and thousands more from their rich agricultural lands soon after presidential election results were announced in December 2007.

Having experienced the same tortuous treatment every election year since 1992 when the region repeatedly bore the brunt of tribal violence, he feels “enough is enough”.
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OCHA Kenya Humanitarian Update vol. 18, 1 – 9 May 2008

OCHA Kenya Humanitarian Update vol. 18, 1 – 9 May 2008


HIGHLIGHTS

– 15,000 IDPs return home as government launches resettlement operation

– Food crisis looms as inflation nears 27%

– Government agrees to new IDP registration format

– Water and sanitation provision stabilizes in most camps

– Second phase of teacher training on peace education completed

The information contained in this report has been compiled by OCHA from information received from the field, from national and international humanitarian partners and from other official sources. It does not represent a position from the United Nations.

I. General Overview

The government of Kenya launched 5 May, Operation Rudi Nyumbani’resettlement’ in an effort to return Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to their home areas. The first phase of the operation is targeting IDPs in Trans Nzoia and Molo districts, building on trends of large numbers of IDPs spontaneously returning to their farms over the past two months. Some 15,000 people had been transported to their home areas by 9 May. Uasin Gishu and Naivasha Districts are slated for the second phase. Concerns have been expressed by many IDPs residing in camps as well as by members of the international communityonthe lack of consultations and planning with stakeholders prior to the operation.

The official start of the return operation followed a three-day tour of Rift Valley Province by President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga that ended on 26 April. They encouraged communities to reconcile so that the displaced could return to their homes and farms, a measure that could help soften the impact of the looming food crisis. The early stages of implementation of the resettlement illustrated some of the challenges faced by Provincial and District Commissioners to meet the needs of displaced persons and ensure their security and led to greater prudence and consultation in subsequent days. By 7 May, the operation had slowed due to the recognized need for more planning in many places of displacement. The District Commissioner (DC) of Uasin Gishu District, for example, implemented a more cautious and consultative return exercise where food and relief items were solicited and in place prior to commencement on Friday May 9th. Instead of using military vehicles for the operation, a practice that was criticized for the effective intimidation that military presence lent to the exercise, the KRCS provided the transportation to pre-assessed areas of return.

The government maintains that all resettlement efforts will be voluntary and reports suggest that the process has been largely based on the principle of voluntariness, building on pre-existing trends of spontaneous returns to farms where many have managed to cultivate their land. The Minister of Special Programmes assured IDPs that they could stay in camps until peace talks had been undertaken with local communities in areas of return. However, some coercion has been reported in specific camps by particular local authorities. Furthermore, the involvement of the military in the operation had added psychological pressure on IDPs to return in areas like trans Nzoia and Molo. Due to the sudden and expedited nature of the operation and lack of clear information about the operation and conditions in places of return, IDPs’ ability decisions about their choice to return may have been compromised.

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UNHCR organizes go-and-see visits for displaced Kenyans

UNHCR organizes go-and-see visits for displaced Kenyans


NYAKINYUA, Kenya, May 7 (UNHCR) – Thirty displaced Kenyans have paid a day-long visit to the Rift Valley Province villages they fled earlier this year, but left for their sanctuaries undecided about whether or not to return permanently. Some were shocked to see the devastation wreaked on their property.

The UN refugee agency organized the ‘go-and-see’ visits on Tuesday to Nyakinyua and Timboroa, setting out from the provincial capital of Nakuru in western Kenya. The visits, requested by the 30 internally displaced people (IDP) taking part, came a day after the government launched an IDP resettlement programme dubbed ‘Operation Rudi Nyumbani’ (Operation Return Home).

The group of 15 IDPs who visited Nyakinyua – all from the same ethnic group – were warmly welcomed by their neighbours from a rival ethnic group, some of whom had turned on them when violence broke out after last December’s presidential election. The inter-ethnic violence left some 1,200 people dead and 350,000 homeless – 90 percent of them in the Rift Valley. Continue reading