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10 months resettling Kenyan refugees

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 12 – Wilfred Ndolo has been in public service for over two decades but it is what could be his last posting and probably his shortest that has really engaged his strength, skills and emotions more.

The former Provincial Commissioner has in the last 10 months headed the resettlement program for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who were uprooted from their homes at the height of the post election skirmishes.

The job, he says, has been challenging and full of mixed feelings. We caught up with him in his office and delved a little into his experience.

Q. When you were told to come and head this operation how did it feel?
A.  It wasn’t very good.

Q. Were you ready for it?
A. As a Christian I believe where God sends me, I shall be. But if I was given a choice I would not have come.

Q. Having been here for 10 months how is your feeling today?
A. I feel proud when I see people, although not all of them, who have gone back to normal life. There are still some who are remaining and this makes me feel sad.

Q. Why haven’t you been able to resettle all of them?
A. One of the challenges is lack of sufficient funding. If I had enough funds I would resettle all of them and laugh all the way as I go home. Secondly, there have been security fears in some areas. Some people have planted and even harvested in their farms, but they are still living in satellite camps.

Q. Those are mixed feelings, at one time you are very proud and then the other time you are at your lowest.
A. There is this story in the Bible of a shepherd who has 99 sheep in the pen but still went out looking for just one which was lost. It is the same case here. You don’t feel comfortable when you have that one sheep out there.

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Q. What more would you like to happen in this process?
A. To see all people return to their normal homes. There are so many people living in inhumane conditions. I have met MPs from both Central and Rift Valley Provinces and we hope to fix a date for joint peace meetings to encourage reconciliation.

Q. Are we prone to a similar situation come 2012?
A. We have to do several things to be immune. Both the Kriegler and Waki Commissions mentioned them and we need to do exactly what those documents said. I hope our leaders will help us to go through the resolutions.

Q. The experience seems to have been weighty on you, what message would you have for Kenyans?
A. We have to accept that we are brothers and sisters and our destiny is one. We have to accept each other whatever tribe we belong to. Love your neighbour as yourself.

Q. You will be retiring next year what do you see ahead?
A. I leave that to God!

Prior to his present posting, Mr Ndolo was the Director of Administration at the Agriculture Ministry and expects to retire from the civil service next year.

More than 600,000 persons were uprooted from their homes in the skirmishes that followed the 2007 general elections, while more than 1,500 others lost their lives. The government has so far used over Sh1.5 billion for the resettlement that started in May last year. The government is currently mobilising support from development partners and the international community to help rebuild houses for the victims and initiate food security measures.


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