At least 2,500 people who have been camping in Lamu County after being displaced from their homes following Al-Shabaab attacks are free to return to their farms, the government says.
County Commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo said enough measures had been put in place to ensure the internally displaced persons of their security.
The IDPs from Pandanguo, Jima, Poromoko, Kakathe, Maleli and Nyongoro bordering the Boni Forest have been putting up at the Katsaka Kairu and Witu AIC camps in Lamu West since July.
The government had directed the residents to vacate their homes and move into the camps to pave way for a security operation to hunt down Al-Shabaab.
Speaking to journalists in his office on Tuesday, Mr Kitiyo said peace, calm and order had been restored in all the affected villages and the IDPs were free to leave for their homes “anytime they wished.”
Mr Kitiyo said the security forces had kicked out the militants who had been terrorising the villagers and that he was confident locals will be safe in their homes.
The county chief said his office had already made arrangements and deployed enough police officers and Kenya Police Reservists (KPR) to protect the residents.
He said he saw no need for the IDPs to continue staying in the camps when their homes were now safe to return to.
“The security operation has borne fruit. Peace has been restored. I therefore call on all IDPs at Katsaka Kairu and Witu AIC to vacate the camps and go back to their villages."
He added: "The villages are safer than ever. I want to assure the residents that the Al-Shabaab threat has been dealt with and safety restored. We have also deployed enough police and KPR officers to all villages to ensure those who will go back are assured of a 24-hour protection,” said Mr Kitiyo.
The county chief however insisted that the national government will not compensate any of the terror IDPs in the county for any losses, damages and time spent at the IDP camps.
The IDPs had sought to be compensated for their crops which they said were destroyed by wild animals and herders after they fled Al-Shabaab attacks.
“We can’t compensate the IDPs but we are seeking assistance from well-wishers including Kenya Red Cross to see whether we can provide the farmers with seeds and foodstuff as they go back to their villages,” said Mr Kitiyo.
This comes at a time when the national government is still pushing ahead with the Boni Enclave Campaign, a security operation meant to flush out Al-Shabaab militants in various parts of the county.
A week ago, Kenya Defence Forces soldiers conducting the operation killed four Al-Shabaab militants at Mararani in Lamu East and recovered among other things four AK47 riffles, three grenades, mobile phones, bomb making paraphernalia and foodstuffs.
The Boni Enclave Campaign Director Joseph Kanyiri said the security operation will go on until security, peace and calm is restored in Lamu and other counties bordering the Boni forest including Tana River and Garissa counties.