Our votes were tickets to hell: Tale of IDPs camping at Parliament

October 19, 2016 3:11 pm
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Upon arrival in the country, the 534 IDPs were given Sh100,000 to start of their lives in a place where they had left seven years ago and the remaining money was to be channeled in a few weeks later/MOSES MUOKI
Upon arrival in the country, the 534 IDPs were given Sh100,000 to start of their lives in a place where they had left seven years ago and the remaining money was to be channeled in a few weeks later/MOSES MUOKI

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 19 – “The area is protected. No Trespassers. No idlers,” is well indicated in red and bold at the perimeter wall of Parliament Buildings, where hundreds of Kenyan MPs sit to legislate the future of millions of Kenyans who voted them in.

But what should one do if he or she is persecuted for exercising their constitutional right to vote?

It is a question hundreds of returnees from Uganda, who were victims of post election violence in 2007-2008 are seeking answers to, as they chose to ignore any warning and instead camp at Parliament for three weeks now, a place with restricted access.

They are not idlers but bereaved Kenyans who returned from a refugee camp in Tororo in Uganda – a place they now wish they did not leave – after the Government promised to not only allocate them some land to start their new lives, but also Sh400,000.

Upon arrival in the country, the 534 IDPs were given Sh100,000 to start of their lives in a place where they had left seven years ago and the remaining money was to be channeled in a few weeks later.

“They lied to us, they lied to us…” 58 years old Ann Wambui Kung’u wailed, hoping “someone will listen to our cry and help us. We don’t want to be spoon-fed, we just want to be empowered.”

Wambui says she was born and raised in Western Kenya and had rental houses worth Sh4.5 million.

“I was not poor…but voting for the leader of my choice has destroyed my life completely,” a teary Wambui said in an earsplitting voice.

Her pain is reflected in the faces of the more than 200 IDPs who have been braving the scorching sun during the day and the cold at nights for three weeks and are determined to stay there until their grievances are addressed despite an imminent health crisis.

Among them, there are 14 children, some who are a few months old.

“She is hungry, please buy her some milk,” one of the women with children appealed to the Capital FM News crew, before the interview.

Also among the IDPs is 76 year-old John Karanja, who says his life “is cursed” and even regrets why he was born in Kenya.

The sickly looking man is a victim of post elections violence twice “and feels tired. I hope I can die together with my wife and six children to bring to an end this suffering.”

I’m tired of being lied to, he says while narrating the genesis of his misery.

After he was born in Nyeri County, they moved to Nanyuki where his father was killed by during the Mau Mau war and his mother was to die a few years later.

Determined to make it in life, he says he moved to Eldoret where he worked hard, purchased some land but was displaced in 1992 and fled to Malaba, the border of Kenya and Uganda.

By this time, he was already a family man with six children.

“My 76 years of living has been of pain and suffering,” he says before braving a lengthy cough. “It’s cold here at night but its better here. It is better we die here since we are Kenyans.”

Just like in 1992, he says all his investment was destroyed in 2007 post-election violence.

Their chairperson, Ruth Ndung’u, says their hope to be resettled continues to diminish as the country nears 2017 General Election and want President Uhuru Kenyatta to direct the Devolution Ministry to fully implement the agreement signed between UNHCR, Uganda and the Kenyan Government.

“They will forget us once they start the campaigns,” a grief-stricken Ndung’u said.

“Please, President Uhuru Kenyatta wake up and come help us. We are suffering…we may have not voted for you because were in Uganda but we prayed for you. We fasted for this country while we were in Uganda. Please listen to our cry.”

Over 1,000 people were killed and 600,000 other displaced during the 2007-2008 post election violence/MOSES MUOKI
Over 1,000 people were killed and 600,000 other displaced during the 2007-2008 post election violence/MOSES MUOKI

Though they were born and raised in Kenya, most of them only have the UNHCR identification documents given to them while at the refugee camp, while all the children born during their seven-year stay in Uganda do not have registration documents.

“How can we be living as if we are not Kenyans and yet this is our motherland?” she wondered.

As established by Capital FM News, most of them have identification documents they were given to them by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, indicating their personal details and family members.

Ndung’u also has a document, which she says is a copy of the agreement between UNHCR, Uganda and Kenya, before they returned to the country.

“The Government of Kenya shall support the returnees in a far as possible to return their former land, housing and property and if not possible offer alternative support,” reads a section the alleged agreement.

Over 1,000 people were killed and 600,000 other displaced during the 2007-2008 post election violence.

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