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Report: IDP resettlement lacks peace measures

NAIROBI, June 24 – A new report has faulted the government’s IDP resettlement exercise, citing the lack of an effective on-ground peace-building initiative and proper communication among others.

The government-run Kenya National Commission on Human Rights released the report on Tuesday following a monitoring process conducted one month since the start of the resettlement exercise code-named "Operation Rudi Nyumbani".

While releasing the report, KNCHR Commissioner Fatuma Ibrahim Ali said the returnee IDPs are living in fear mainly due to the lack of well organised peace-building efforts with their "host" communities.

"There is need for peace and reconciliation efforts before, during and after resettlement," she stressed, adding that this would cut down on cases of IDPs receiving threats as reported in Turbo, Molo and Londiani.

"Where there has been attempted resettlement there have been no peace meetings and the different communities are living in suspicion of each other.”

The KNCHR report attributed this to the communication gap between the government, the displaced persons and humanitarian organisations on the ground, due to the fact that the provincial administration was put solely in-charge of co-ordinating the exercise.

Ali said most of the IDPs were still in the dark about the government plans, especially on compensation and resettlement, and called for better and clearer information.

The government-run human rights watchdog further suggested that the returnees be involved in the planning and management of the resettlement process.

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The commission findings also gave backing to the stand taken by the displaced persons, to be allowed to make the decision on whether to go back to their properties or be relocated to other areas.

"A system should be put in place to receive and address the IDPs’ grievances, at camps and at their places of resettlement and about local integration," read a part of the recommendations in the report.

It added, "The IDPs should be able to make informed decisions as to whether to return to their home communities; remain where they are, or settle elsewhere in the country."

Ibrahim Ali says the survey conducted early this month raises concern that conditions on the ground were not conducive to allow returning IDPs access to basic amenities, to enable them rebuild their lives.

"The government should provide a satisfactory resettlement package that should include food rations, building materials, and needs such as may ease the plight of the resettled, or at least arrive to an agreement with the IDPs on what a minimum resettlement package should entail," she said.

The commission called for the quick disbursement of devolved funds to ensure they are utilised in rebuilding facilities and institutions for the IDPs.

The field visit was carried out between June 2 and June 6, and covered the North Rift, South Rift, Central Rift and Nairobi Regions.

The camps covered included: Eldoret showground, Turbo, Endebes, Noigam and Burnt Forest IDP camps in the North Rift, while the Nakuru Showground, Afraha Stadium, Narok, and Keringet camps constituted those visited in the South and Central Rift regions.

‘Operation Rudi Nyumbani’ kicked off on May 5 and has succeeded in returning 40,000 out of 350,000 IDPs living in camps and other places, back to their former residences.

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On Monday, top security chiefs held a meeting at Harambee House to discuss the state of the IDPs amid reports of several of them being threatened after going home.

Internal Security Minister Professor George Saitoti, Police Commissioner Mohammed Hussein Ali and Administration Police Commandant Kinuthia Mbugua converged on Monday morning, and the details of their discussions were later relayed to President Mwai Kibaki by Saitoti.

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