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Thousands are still stuck in IDP camps

Wednesday September 24 2008

Internally displaced people camping at the

Internally displaced people camping at the Eldoret Showground. The camp has over 13,000 people. Photo/JARED NYATAYA  

By DAVID MUGONYI and OLIVER MATHENGE

The Waki Commission on post-election violence was on Wednesday putting final touches to its report as it emerged that over 80,000 people who were affected were still languishing in camps around the country.

And at least 220,000 others were still living on doles from the Kenya Red Cross, in their homes and refugee camps spread around the country.

Details on the status of the uprooted people comes a day after former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan who brokered the peace accord singled it out as one of the foremost outstanding issues to be resolved.

He was in the country to receive the Kriegler report and meet with President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga and issued a statement on his departure on Monday.

Solution

The statement said in part: “The situation of IDPs is on the minds of virtually all Kenyans I met. A durable solution must be found expeditiously.”

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Members of the Commission of Inquiry on Post-election Violence headed by Mr Justice Philip Waki remained holed up at a retreat in South Coast and promised the report would be handed to President Kibaki even before the October 15 deadline.

And the Nation received from the Government and the Red Cross details of the status of internally displaced people in the country, the Kenyans who paid a heavy price following the disputed presidential results that precipitated mayhem.

The focus shifted from Kriegler report that analysed the flawed electoral process, which was released last week to the Waki commission.

The secretary George Kegoro declared: “We have enough evidence to recommend measures to prevent the country from witnessing the violence it did after the 2007 elections”.

Mr Kegoro, who spoke exclusively to the Nation from Mombasa, said that the commission was progressing well in its final leg of writing a report.

“We don’t believe it was intended that we would get everybody… if this was intended, we would have been given more time, but our responsibility was to point out how issues of post-election violence should be dealt with,” he said.

The violence that plunged the country into the darkest hour in history left over 1,000 dead and 350,000 others displaced from their homes.

Special Programmes permanent secretary Ali Mohammed told the Nation that there were 7,690 people still living in camps in Nakuru, Eldoret and Naivasha, while another 76,400 are living in another 129 satellite camps around the country.

These are camps that were set up by the Government as transit centres when the settlement programme began in May.

The combined government details of 84,090 still in camps and 220,000 being taken care of by the Kenya Red Cross would leave a large number unaccounted for, nine months later.

Mr Ali described cases dealt with in Uasin Gishu districts and Molo area as the “most difficult” where most satellite camps still remain.

Other areas in the Rift Valley where satellite camps have been set up include Kipkelion and Koibatek, he added.

“Resettlement is almost complete and virtually all camps have been closed, but this is not to say that everybody has moved back to their homes. We have people who are now in satellite camps closer to their farms,” Mr Mohammed said.

Kenya Red Cross communication officer Titus Mung’ou told the Nation that at least 220,000 people were still getting aid from the organisation.

He said the distribution targeting Rift Valley, Nyanza and Western was being co-ordinated by the Government and World Food Programme.

“Most of those who are yet to return to their homes are in the satellite camps, but they are still living in the tents,” he said.

Mr Mohammed said that all those who had been displaced have been given Sh10,000 to restart their lives. He added that the Government was still committed to giving the extra Sh35,000 promised.

“The programme is working very well and we are now encouraging people to rebuild their houses so that they can restart their lives,” he said.

According to Mr Mung’ou, Red Cross was assisting in the rebuilding of up to 1,000 houses in the Rift Valley of which 80 are ready for occupation.

The Government launched the Operation Rudi Nyumbani resettlement programme in May this year, but it has faced criticism with people questioning its success. Mr Mohammed described it as a success despite the problems.

Waki Commission’s mandate included investigating facts and circumstances related to post-election violence, actions or omissions of state security agencies and to make recommendations to prevent a repeat of the mayhem witnessed in the country after the December 27 polls.

It is also to recommend on prosecution of those responsible for violence, eradicate impunity and promote measures for national reconciliation besides proposing on other legal, political administrative measures to address issues of violence.

Where appropriate, it can make recommendations to the yet-to-be-formed Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission.

During its sittings, Justice Waki asked Kenyans to identify perpetrators of post-election violence so that appropriate action could be recommended.

He said then that the success of the inquiry depended on information from the public. On Wednesday, Mr Kegoro said they would deliver a report within the stipulated time frame.

The team has until October 15 to deliver its report, but it could hand it in even earlier, the Nation learned. He, however, dismissed reports that part of the commission report was already in circulation saying they had not completed their work.

Sources told the Nation that the commission was considering publishing its report elsewhere other than the Government Printers to avoid it leaking to the Public.

But Mr Kegoro responded: “Our report is not yet out and so it has not leaked.”