The agony of IDPs, three years later

April 8, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 7 – Three years after the post election violence in Kenya, hundreds of families remain homeless as they continue to peg their hope on the government.

Many of these people did necessarily own land where they lived, and mainly operated businesses.  Now, they have nowhere to go.

“You cannot go back to your parents when you are already a grown up and have a family,” says Florence Wanjiku, an Internally Displaced Person.

Florence had lived in Kisumu with her family since 1998. Here, she run a business selling old and new clothes which she says she used to get from Nairobi.

“My business was doing really well and together with my husband’s earnings we were able to sustain the family,” the mother of four says.

Florence is however now living in a two-roomed house in a small centre called Karati in Naivasha. She is among the 350,000 IDPs around the country who are considered as integrated. These are people who are homeless but have been living with local communities.

“We came in about 30 buses on the orders of the District Officer in Kisumu. We were left in Naivasha town for us to sort ourselves. We were very unkempt because we had stayed at the railway station for two weeks without food or even a bath,” she remembers.

“A good Samaritan gave us this house to stay for six months without paying after which we were required to start paying rent,” she tells us from her house which still has wooden shelves, a sign that it was once a shop.

Martha Njeri, another integrated IDP says their suffering has never ended.

“I came from Mau summit (Kuresoi constituency). I have not seen anyone, the government or any MP come to assist us. We are about 130 in this area,” she painfully narrates.

From living in a self-contained permanent house to a wooden shack is what Martha Njeri and her family of nine have been reduced to for the last three years.

“The government doesn’t care about us, we are paying rent, we don’t have jobs, our children are no longer going to school, others have been employed as househelps, others got married very young but what are we going to do?” she poses.

“When we get odd jobs, we are paid Sh100 per day and some of us have up to 10 children,” she adds.

Although the government was giving Sh10, 000 to each IDP for resettlement, the plight of the integrated IDPs is yet to be addressed.

“Leave alone the Sh10, 000… we have not received any food aid since we came here,” she says.

This fact was confirmed by a government official in Karati who did not wish to be named.

The Minister for Special Programmes Esther Murugi has also indicated that the government is first dealing with those IDP’s who are still living in camps. This stand has greatly been opposed by other Members of Parliament.

The government has at one point dismissed some of the IDPs as being fake.

“We cannot agree to live under such deplorable conditions just so that we can be called IDPs,” says Martha as she takes us round her three-roomed shack that has no furniture apart from a bed.

Although they are a bit apprehensive about going back where they came from, they say because of the limited choices, if the government facilitated them, they would go back.

“If the government would give us the money, we can try and uplift our lives. If not that they can take us where they are saying they got land, we are willing to go anywhere,” says Martha.

“I would go back to Kisumu because I hear rumours that there are still business opportunities although I would not stay during elections. Even if the government would want us to go back where we lived to establish that we are true IDPs we are willing to. Our only fear is if a similar violence broke out,” explains Florence.

And as six suspects who are said to have borne the greatest responsibility to the violence appear before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, most of the integrated IDPs feel it will not solve their problems.

“I don’t see any solution by taking them to The Hague, they should be brought back to Kenya and dealt with here,” opines Martha while her husband Joseph Mburu adds: “I hear there is a journalist who is in the list, what kind of money would such a person have to fund violence?”

“Next year’s elections will find us still dormant here and to me it’s not a solution to take people to The Hague; they should use that money to resettle us,” Florence states.

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