Life was much better in Ugandan camp, say former refugees in row

Tuesday March 22 2016

Some of the Kenyans who escaped to Uganda following the 2007/2008 post-election violence demonstrate outside the Treasury Building in Nairobi on March 21, 2016, demanding the Sh400,000 each family was promised after returning home. PHOTO | ROBERT NGUGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Some of the Kenyans who escaped to Uganda following the 2007/2008 post-election violence demonstrate outside the Treasury Building in Nairobi on March 21, 2016, demanding the Sh400,000 each family was promised after returning home. PHOTO | ROBERT NGUGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JACQUELINE KUBANIA
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Jane Wangui is a bitter woman. She is among people who have been camping outside Sheria House along Harambee Avenue in Nairobi since Thursday last week demanding the Sh400,000 resettlement package the government promised her when she returned after living as a refugee in Uganda.

Ms Wangui, a mother of one, is among about 6,500 Kenyans who fled the 2007-2008 post-election violence following the bungled presidential elections and settled at Kiryandogo Refugee Settlement in Masindi District.

She was in a cohort of 700 other families who returned home last year, lured back by what she terms promises of sizeable resettlement packages and land to restart their lives.

A year later, Ms Wangui feels neglected and betrayed by the same government that promised her a decent life back home.

“They made the promises to get us come back home but now that we are here, we have been reduced to paupers. We rely on well-wishers for accommodation and food, we cannot afford school fees for our children and should we fall sick, we cannot afford  hospital fees,” she says.

BETTER LIFE

Ms Wangui says life was better in Uganda as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) ensured they had a place to live and schooled their children for free. They were also given healthcare services.

The returnees say they were promised Sh400,000 per family, the same amount paid to IDPs. However, the government only gave them between Sh100,000 and Sh150,000.

“Some of us are yet to receive even that little amount a year later, we have nothing to our names,” she said.

Anne Wanjiru,19, whose mother died while in Uganda says she has been unable to continue with her education after returning because local schools do not recognise certificates she acquired while in Uganda.

“I was in Form One when I left Uganda. However,  secondary schools rejected me because I do not have Kenyan certificates. I have pleaded with  education officials but nothing has been done,” she said. She now works as a casual labourer in Eldoret.

Mr Haron Komen, the Commissioner of Refugees at the ministry of Interior says they are doing the best to compensate the families.

“It is true some families were not  given a resettlement package because  the ministry of Devolution that handled the case last year blacklisted them after they were suspected of not being genuine. We are now working with UNHCR to ensure all registered returnees are given some money,” he said.