The cry of IDPs brought to Nairobi

November 12, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, November 11 – More than 500 internal refugees who were displaced from the North Rift during the post-election chaos continued to camp outside Parliament buildings for the second day on Wednesday demanding action from the government to re-settle them.

The refugees who mainly included women with children as young as three years old arrived in Nairobi on Tuesday afternoon to press their case, but were violently dispersed by the police when they attempted to block the entry to Parliament buildings.

They had arrived in three chartered buses from Eldoret where they have been camping since the flare up that followed the December 2007 presidential election.

“We are here to demand our rights. Why is the government neglecting us yet the President himself had assured that we will be taken care of,” Mary Muthoni, one of the IDPs asked.

The refugees have been camping on a walkway connecting Parliament buildings and the Kenyatta International Conference Centre.

“We are just victims of circumstances. We have been forced to put up in tents and other temporary shelters as leaders in government enjoy their comfort in power,” another woman yelled.

Unlike Tuesday evening when they clashed with law enforcers prompting anti-riot police to teargas them, the group appeared calm and composed on Wednesday.

One of their leaders Mukami Karanja told Capital News that they had been assured of urgent government intervention after holding talks National Cohesion Minister Martha Karua who bought them dinner on Wednesday night and even secured shelter for them at the Holy Family Basilica.

“The Minister is sympathising with us and has assured us that she is personally pursuing the matter,” Ms Mukami said.

Other leaders who visited them included Water and Irrigation Assistant Minister Mwangi Kiunjuri and former Kibwezi Member of Parliament Kalembe Ndile.

The women told of agonising and deplorable conditions they have been living in for the past eleven months while others recalled how they were raped or beaten by attackers from other communities opposed to their stay in the Rift Valley.

Mr Ndile who spent nearly half an hour addressing and consoling the women urged them to stay put until their demands were met.

“It is even good you have come to Nairobi.  The government can easily forget about you when you stay in the rural areas, continue staying here to pressurise them to act,” he said.

Among the grievances the women raised include failure by the government to pay them compensation as pledged earlier in the year.

They also claimed the government had paid some IDPs more money than others, yet they were all displaced under the same circumstances.

“The government is applying double standards, some people have been paid Sh10, 000 while others have been given Sh25, 000 yet there are those who have never been given anything,” Ann Waithera, another IDP who lost her husband during the chaos complained.

She said the government-initiated ‘Operation Rudi Nyumbani’ had failed because none of the IDPs in Eldoret had been resettled in their original homes.

“While the government brags of having resettled IDPs, none of us was able to go back to our homes.  We have been staying at camps because the homes we are being told to go back to are too volatile,” Ms Waithera said citing persistent hostility from members of communities which evicted them when chaos broke out last year.


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