Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Displaced by Violence; Resettled by Violence

Many of the Kenyans who ended up in camps for internally displaced persons (IDP) are there because they supported or are seen to have supported Mwai Kibaki, the current president. However, Kibaki feels that it is intolerable that people should still be in IDP camps and so he announced a few weeks ago that they were all going to be resettled elsewhere.

Most people tried to stay where they were until they were sure the government was really going to pay them the pittance they are getting for resettlement, about 350 dollars. But they were told they would not get the money until they dismantled the temporary accommodation they have been living in for nearly two years. The amount of money they have been given will not buy them much, certainly not land. But some promises have been made about land, too.

Whether these promises will be kept and to how many people is not clear and may never be clear. But press coverage of IDP resettlements seem to be confined to the very discreet and peaceful events at the ironically named Eldoret Show Grounds. I don't know if the press was selective in what they covered but Kenyan TV coverage today included extremely violent 'resettlements' with riot police beating people with truncheons and firing tear gas on displaced people currently living in camps.

Recent coverage on the BBC claims there will be 'no forcible evictions', but today's events seem to contradict that claim. You can go around from village to village here in the Rift Valley and see the remains of houses and other buildings that have been raised to the ground, often burned down. Why would people who were displaced so violently return to the neighbours who tried and even succeeded in killing and maiming so many of them?

The government's response does not see reasonable, so I hope press coverage takes as much interest in the 'resettlement' programmes as they did in the original violence.



Claire said...

Does Kenya just want all its refugees to die rather than live in camps? good grief.

Simon said...

I think they just want them out of the public eye, but they succeeded in doing the opposite yesterday.