IDPs say they will not go home

June 22, 2008 12:00 am

, NYERI, June 22 – More than 250 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who have been camped at the Ngecha PEFA Church in Limuru since January have vowed never to go back to their homes in Kiambaa, Eldoret.

The IDPs, most of whom escaped a fire at a church where they had taken refuge early this year, have instead asked the Government to buy their land and use the money to resettle them elsewhere.

Mary Njeri, who lost her father and a sister-in-law among the 35 people burnt to death in the church during the post poll chaos, said she would never go back to her former home.

“I want the government to buy land elsewhere and resettle us,” she told Capital News.

On January 1, 2008, more than 35 people, mostly women and children were burnt alive in the Kenya Assemblies of God church in Kiambaa, on the outskirts of Eldoret town.

A mob gathered outside the church, pelted the structure with rocks, slammed the church doors shut, piled mattresses and bicycles outside the entrance, poured fuel on them and then set the church alight.

Bishop Daniel Kahuha of PEFA Church, who has been hosting the IDPs for the past five months, said that the Government should get another place to resettle them because they would rather starve than go back.

Kahuha said following directives by the state that all IDPs go back home, the roughly 256 clash victims have been forced to sometimes go hungry, because none of them want to go back home.

About 350,000 people were displaced from their homes in the wake of the violence early this year, due to a disputed poll which Prime Minister Raila Odinga claimed was rigged in President Mwai Kibaki’s favour.

More than 1,500 were killed in the ensuing chaos.

The government recently launched ‘Operation Rudi Nyumbani’, where they helped to transport those displaced back to their homes and help them rebuild their lives.

The process, which is on-going, has however been met with stiff resistance and petitions for resettlement in places other than where those displaced were uprooted from.

IDPs from camps in Naivasha and Eldoret have also expressed fear of going back to their homes, claiming that those who had initially gone home were back in the camps due to threats on their lives.

Despite warnings by the government that it intends to close the camps and withdrawal of assistance from the Kenya Red Cross Society, the IDPs are adamant that they will not leave the camps.

“Red Cross has brought down their flag and indicated that there will no longer be medical assistance from them,” said a displaced person in the Kedong Valley camp.

However, the government has encouraged IDPs to return home, insisting that it is committed to providing all the security necessary to ensure their safety in their original homes.


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