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Refugees & forced migration

Kenya: Concern over forced closure of camps

2008-05-12, Issue 371

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/refugees/48011

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The National Internally Displaced Persons Network of Kenya is deeply concerned with recent moves by the Government of Kenya to forcibly close IDP camps across the country in violation of the international Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and basic human decency. Operation "Rudi Nyumbani" seems to be based on no policy or legal framework but instead uses the force of the provincial administration to prematurely close the IDP camps.

The National Internally Displaced Persons Network of Kenya

URGENT ACTION: May 9, 2008:
FORCED CLOSURE OF IDP CAMPS IN KENYA

The National Internally Displaced Persons Network of Kenya is deeply concerned with recent moves by the Government of Kenya to forcibly close IDP camps across the country in violation of the international Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and basic human decency. Operation "Rudi Nyumbani" seems to be based on no policy or legal framework but instead uses the force of the provincial administration to prematurely close the IDP camps. It aims at solving the problems of displacement by simply forcing people back to their homes 1) without honoring legal obligations to compensation 2) without providing adequate security and 3) without allowing time for some reconciliation to take place.

The National IDP Network asks that the Government of Kenya recognize its responsibility to protect these victims of violence including many children. According to the guiding principles, which it has agreed to in the Great Lakes Pact, the government is also required, to give the displaced choices and alternatives to returning to the site of very recent trauma. By closing the camps the government is in effect forcing people to return or face starvation, disease and perhaps home in a slum. Such scenarios are likely to breed more poverty and recruits for gangs and future violence. Few seem to remember that Mungiki was a product of the 1991-92 violence and that we are in danger of magnifying and multiplying such groups if we do not deal with both the sites of violence and the trauma and plight of the displaced in a comprehensive manner.

It should also be noted that a number of those IDPs who have agreed to be taken back to such places as Kuresoi have experienced threats, violence and no services. At least one man has committed suicide on return, and many have literally returned by foot to the camps. In Nakuru, the site of one of the largest camps the government discontinued water five days ago to the camp causing much distress and the potential outbreak of disease. Residents have been forced to send children out to collect water and tomorrow they will bury a child killed by a car on one desperate mission to collect water. This is no way to treat victims of violence who are already traumatized.

We are asking concerned citizens and friends of Kenya to take urgent action:
• Ask the Kenya Red Cross and international partners to end any complicity in forced returns. Water must be restored to the Nakuru camp immediately. The Kenya Red Cross can be e-mailed at info@kenyaredcross.org or texted at 722-206958 or 733-333040
• Ask the Kenya National Commission for Human Rights to investigate and monitor the ongoing Resettlement and camp closures and to demand that the government recognize the Guiding Principles as the legal framework for dealing with IDPs. Commissioner Maina Kiai can be reached at mkiai@knchr.org
• Ask the government to create an IDP policy that includes some alternatives, which could be in the form of reinstatement of salaries for displaced government employees, monetary compensation, trauma counseling and help in individual relocation choices. Some IDPs have also suggested that they enter into temporary farming arrangements on underutilized land until reconciliation and security can be restored.
• Ask the Government to recognize that some IDPs will prefer to relocate in other parts of the country including Nairobi to do business rather than return. This must be respected and the Ministry of Special Programmes must work with the Ministry of Lands to find alternatives as well as temporary farming arrangements for those who do not wish to return. Finally, urge them to restore water to the Nakuru camp immediately. Dr. Naomi Shaban can be texted at 722814412.


For Further Information Contact: Keffa Magenyi Karuoya (National Coordinator IDP Network) 720-939432

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