A state-funded human rights group in Kenya has raised concerns with the
government's efforts to resettle hundreds of thousands of people
displaced by violence following December's disputed presidential
elections. As Derek Kilner reports for VOA's East Africa bureau in
Nairobi, the Kenyan government launched Operation Return Home in early
May, but many of those displaced have been unable or unwilling to
return to their homes.
About 350,000 Kenyans fled to camps in
the aftermath of the elections, with nearly as many leaving their homes
to stay with friends or family. The government says the majority have
returned home since the resettlement program began.
But most of
the farmers who have been transferred from large camps, have been
installed in smaller "satellite camps" closer to their land, where
families can work on the farm in the day, and return to the camp in the
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights says,
according to rough estimates from its field visits, only about 40,000
people have returned to their homes.
Part of the reason these
families have not moved back to their homes is that the government has
not provided enough support for families to rebuild their houses, many
of which were burned down.
Perhaps more importantly, says
commissioner Futuma Ibrahim, the government has done too little to
address the tensions over land ownership that prompted much of the
violence between ethnic groups.
"There is still serious
hostility between the resettled IDPs and the host communities because
the ground was not well prepared to allow smooth resettlement," said
Ibrahim. "It appears the government has not seriously thought out the
need for peace building."
The concern was illustrated last week
when more than 40 people who had recently returned to their homes from
the main camp in Eldoret, were again chased off their land.
group praised government efforts to increase the presence of police in
the areas to which internally displaced people are returning, but
warned there are still substantial security concerns.
the commission says that moving people from large, centrally located
camps to smaller, dispersed settlements has made it more difficult for
non-governmental organizations to provide humanitarian support, and
many of the new camps lack adequate supplies of water, toilets, and
Despite some reports of security forces coercing
people into leaving camps, the group says most who have left the main
camps have done so voluntarily. But they were not always given a
proper understanding of what conditions would be like in the areas they
returned to, and have had very little participation in organizing the
Ibrahim says many of those staying at the main camps have been overlooked by the government program.
seems that the government in their resettlement package did not
seriously consider the needs of the business people who were in the IDP
camps," said Ibrahim. "And the people who were remaining in the IDP camps,
who were not resettled, who do not have anywhere to go, are largely the
business people or traders or business owners who lost their property."
to the commission, the government has violated a number of the U.N.
guiding principles on the resettlement of displaced persons.