NAIROBI, May 12 – Nearly half a billion shillings for the resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) has so far been donated during a fundraiser in Nairobi presided over by President Mwai Kibaki.
The President opened the ambitious Sh30 billion Humanitarian Fund for the Mitigation of Effects and Resettlement of Victims of Post Election Violence, in a sombre event at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC).
Senior government officials, businessmen and donors made their donations exacting a total of Sh457, 271,129, as the President in a televised address urged all Kenyans to follow suit and donate to the Fund, which would be open for one year.
The Head of State made a personal contribution of Sh5 million and urged local and international well wishers to support the Fund.
"I appeal to all of you Kenyans of goodwill, our development partners, well-wishers and the private sector to contribute generously," he urged.
The money is intended to boost the resettlement exercise, where about 350,000 people banished from their homes during the recent post poll violence are being aided to go back, in a government programme titled ‘Operation Rudi Nyumbani’.
The repatriation began on May 5, but was hampered by demands for food and housing by the IDPs who were being pushed out of camps that they have known as home for several months now.
Most of them had their houses and businesses burnt to the ground in a flurry of hostilities occasioned by a disputed presidential election in December 2007.
Fertiliser and seeds had already been donated to displaced farmers, but the other basic requirements such as housing are still wanting hence the need for the government to initiate the Fund.
The President said he was happy to note that the resettlement that kicked off early last week had seen over 80,000 IDPs return home.
He appealed to leaders to be at the forefront of promoting peace through the district peace and reconciliation committees.
The Head of State also expressed confidence that the Grand Coalition Government would provide a permanent solution to the problems that caused the election violence.
He urged Kenyans to be patient and maintain peace, law, and order, since issues surrounding the violence were complicated and required more time to be decisively resolved.
While making his donation, Businessman Chris Kirubi appealed to Kenyans to co-exist peacefully to create a good environment that will accommodate all citizens.
"What the IDPs need is love and unity, we cannot contribute this money and then go and fight again. So we must create peace," he petitioned.
Head of the Public Service Ambassador Francis Muthaura said the Government had already set aside Sh1 billion in the current budget to assist with the resettlement plan.
He however said the allocation was still very low compared to the amount required to fully resettle those displaced.
Special Programmes Minister Naomi Shaban said Sh650 million had already been spent towards this end, but the needs are massive.
Internal Security Minister George Saitoti hailed the resettlement as a success and attributed it to community-based peace building initiatives and a heavy security presence.
He said no incident had been reported since the IDPs started going back home.
Saitoti noted that phase two of ‘Operation Rudi Nyumbani’ would target the resettlement of IDPs currently living with their families.
Also present at the launch, the Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka said Parliament would soon be discussing the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Bill.
Musyoka said if passed the Bill would allow for the establishment of a Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission that would allow Kenyans to give their views, opinions and evidence in relation to the post election violence.
"I believe Kenyans will be able to come forward and cry it out. And say that never again will Kenya come to the state," he emphasised.
He also urged Kenyans to live together in harmony as they did before the December elections.
"The Internal Security Minister has given us a glimpse of what the government wants to do; to put up those police stations. But you realise we require more than the police station. We require every Kenyan to stand up and forgive each other!"
According to the government out of the 350,000 people displaced, only 85,000 have returned to their homes.
The government said it requires Sh30 billion to successfully resettle all the IDPs.