NAIROBI, May 8 – About 60,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have so far been repatriated back to their former homes in the ongoing resettlement exercise that kicked off on Monday, according to government statistics.
Government Spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua said on Thursday that 70,000 people still remained in various IDP camps across the country, awaiting relocation.
“We faced the challenge of moving people back on time, which is a logistical problem. The numbers that want to go back home are higher than the transport that is available so the government is beefing up the number of lorries and buses,” he explained.
“We thought it would be a slow movement that would go on for a few weeks but it looks like everybody wants to go home now,” Mutua stated.
In his weekly press briefing, Mutua said 500 Kenyan refugees in Uganda were also set to return to the country on Friday.
This is out of the over 1,200 Kenyans who fled to Uganda at the height of the post election violence, spawned by a disputed Presidential poll.
Most of them had expressed unwillingness to return to the country citing insecurity and hundreds have even been transferred to a permanent refugee camp in Western Uganda.
Mutua however said that the government would not force anyone who felt insecure to return to their homes.
“What is happening in those areas is that a few people are returning and they will send back a report to those left, indicating whether it’s safe or not,” he said. “So people should not be worried because we are not going to force anyone. But we are sure they will return since the government has beefed up security.”
Meanwhile, over 1,500 IDPs who declined to go back to their farms in the Kalaha area have said that the number of security personnel on the ground were not enough to protect them.
The IDPs said that the government had only sent seven officers to guard them and wondered why a police post that had been proposed at the site had not been constructed.
Some of the displaced persons said that the officers would not manage to patrol the entire area that is estimated to be about 2,500 acres.
“My farm is located about seven kilometres from where the patrol base of the officers is situated,” Humphrey Barasa said, adding that he still fears for his life.
Others said that the people who had evicted them from their farms had already ploughed their land and some have warned others not to step in the area.
The IDPs from Kalaha on Wednesday declined to board vehicles lined up for them as the Special Programmes Minister Dr Naomi Shaban came to officiate the start of their journey back home.
They told the minister that they wanted the government’s security forces to first flush out illegal firearms in the custody of area residents.
Trans-Nzoia East District Commissioner Seif Matata and his counterpart from Trans-Nzoia West Francis Mutie said that they were contemplating recruiting police reservists to assist in the security operations there.
“Only those with good conduct will be asked to assist in the security matters,” Matata exerted.
Elsewhere, Nyandarua District Commissioner (DC) Hassan Farah has called on internal refugees in various camps in the District to be prepared for the government’s resettlement process.
He appealed to the clash victims to co-operate with the government to enable it work out the transportation and resettlement logistics to make the exercise effective and successful.
Farah assured the IDPs that they would be provided with enough security once they went back to their homes.
Nyandarua North District is leading with the highest number of IDPs with a total of 23,684 families evicted in parts of Rift Valley.
Out of the total registered IDPs in the District, about 9,000 people were evicted from Molo District, 4,000 from Uasin Gishu, and 5,000 from Nakuru while the rest were uprooted from other parts of the province.
The IDPs are hosted at the Ol-Kalou DO’s office, Ngurika, Ndunduri, Nyahururu Municipal Hall and Ndaragwa refugee camps.
Leaders in Nyandarua District are scheduled to meet next week to set up a District Peace and Reconciliation Committee.