NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 23 – The number of people displaced during the post 2007 election violence has now been confirmed to be more than 600,000, nearly double the previous estimate of 350,000 people.,
Special Programmes Minister Naomi Shabaan said on Friday that the government and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) conducted a verification exercise that confirmed the new figures.
“The numbers we were working on were based on those who were in the Internally Displaced (IDP) Camps,” the Minister relayed.
“But finally now, we realise that the number is bigger because of the many integrated people who had run away and were unable to register at the right time,” she added.
Dr Shabaan revealed that the government previously had an erroneous assumption that those who were displaced but living outside the IDP camps were not more than 50,000.
“And we finally finalised our register and made sure that everybody is on board. The numbers we are dealing with now are final and we won’t accept any more names,” she stated.
The final tally showed that Rift Valley, which was the most affected had 408,631 internally displaced persons, followed by Nyanza province with 118,547 people.
Western province had 58,677, Central 46,959 while Eastern, Coast and North Eastern had 6,796, 4,774 and 19,416 displaced persons respectively, totalling at 663,800.
“That is the final figure which includes all the integrated families. We need an additional Sh1.5 billion to pay all of them to restart their lives,” she told a news conference.
At the same briefing, the government of Japan granted Sh550 million for the construction of 8,000 low cost housing units for the displaced persons.
The programme that is to be implemented by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) will be done in four districts within Rift Valley, among them Molo and Uasin Gishu districts, which were among the worst affected areas during the crisis.
IOM regional representative for East and Central Africa, El Nour Ashraf said the move was a result of a government appeal late last year for funding to construct 40,000 housing units.
“This money will also be used to provide a livelihood opportunity to 1,200 people and create an environment conducive to peace building and reconciliation,” Mr Ashraf said.
The implementation of the project will begin immediately but the construction of the housing units is expected to begin in March.
Japan envoy Shigeo Iwatani said his government had also contributed Sh3.6 billion to alleviate the negative impact of the current food crisis.
“At this very moment there are five metric tones of fertiliser from Japan at the Mombasa port awaiting distribution to various parts of the country, to be utilised for the maize planting season,” Mr Iwatani said.
“The shelter project will also contribute to easing the present food crisis, because many of the IDPs were farmers and if we realise their peaceful resettlement it will definitely increase the agricultural production in the short and medium terms,” he added.
The Kenyan government in September last year launched an international appeal for support in the reconstruction effort and formed the Shelter Forum, whose main objective was to mobilise funding for the construction of houses that were burnt during the skirmishes.
The cost was estimated at Sh30,000 per unit, translating to Sh2.4 billion for the whole housing project.
“To date the government has spent Sh500 million in support of reconstruction of houses throughout the country,” said Minister Shabaan.
IOM recently completed the construction of 700 shelters in Molo, Uasin Gishu and Lugari districts.