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Resettlement concerns as ICC mulls case against suspects

A Pregnant woman runs past burning shacks in Nairobi's Mathare slum during post-election violence. [31 December 2007] Julius Mwelu/IRIN
A Pregnant woman runs past burning shacks in Nairobi's Mathare slum during post-election violence. [31 December 2007]

As the International Criminal Court (ICC) decides whether to charge six prominent Kenyans over the violence that followed the 2007 presidential election, internally displaced persons (IDPs) have expressed concern over their much-delayed resettlement.

"We feel we have been suffering in camps for too long; we wonder if those who caused us the displacement ever think of our welfare," Peter Kariuki, an IDP at the Mawingo camp in Nyandarwa district, Central Province, told IRIN.

Kariuki and thousands of other IDPs remain in so-called satellite or transit camps while others who have returned home do not have free access to their land due to security concerns, despite a government promise, through the Ministry of Special Programmes, that all IDPs would be resettled by December 2010.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, at least 31,000 IDPs across the country have yet to be resettled. Some 600,000 people fled their homes during the weeks of violence that followed the announcement of the election results. More than 1,000 people died.

Mawingo is the largest IDP camp, with 2,386 families or 12,521 persons, according to the Ministry of Special Programmes. Several other camps are in Rift Valley Province, mostly around the town of Nakuru, the provincial capital.

Camp officials in Mawingo told IRIN that 110 IDPs had died since October 2008, most due to poor living conditions.

As the country heads for general elections in 2012, the IDPs still hope the government will soon resettle them.

Resettlement hurdles

Ethnic tension and land disputes have complicated efforts to resettle the IDPs.

Recently, the Ministry of Special Programmes announced it had purchased 971 hectares in Mau Narok, Rift Valley, to resettle 850 IDP families in camps in Nakuru. However, elders from the Maasai ethnic group, the dominant inhabitants of Mau Narok, resisted the move, saying the area was ancestral land.

Special Programmes Minister Esther Murugi has maintained the IDPs will be resettled on the controversial land but the Maasai elders insist it is theirs but had been illegally appropriated by a third party.

"The [IDP] families will still be resettled there as soon as the Maasais stop 'making noise'; the ministry is already preparing a list of those who will be resettled," Murugi said.

It remains to be seen whether or not the Maasai community will embrace their new neighbours-to-be or if the relocation will spark further inter-communal tension.

Kariuki, the IDP at Mawingo, said the government’s failure to fulfil its promise of resettling them by December 2010 was a clear indication of a lack of commitment and a violation of IDP rights.

On the issue of justice for crimes committed during the post-election violence, the IDPs hope the ICC process will lead to prosecution and sentencing of those named by the ICC.

However, many IDPs lack a proper understanding of the ICC process.

"I don't understand much about [the] ICC but I hear it operates from The Hague. I do not know where The Hague is but I know it is miles away from Nairobi, Kenya's capital," Joseph Oenga, an IDP in Nakuru, told IRIN.

In December 2010, ICC prosecutor Louis Moreno-Ocampo named six Kenyans he claims bear the most responsibility for the post-election violence, including deputy prime minister Uhuru Kenyatta and former cabinet ministers Henry Kosgey and William Ruto.

Long process

ICC judges are evaluating Ocampo’s request for charges to be brought against the six.

If the cases go to trial, the proceedings could take place late this year or in 2012. Many Kenyans hope Ocampo's move will prevent a repeat of the violence during the next general elections, scheduled for December 2012.

Representatives of the IDPs and civil society officials are trying to help survivors understand that it could take longer than 2012 for justice to be done.

Keffa Magenyi, a coordinator of the National IDP Network in Kenya, said: "After the ICC decision, many felt that they [the suspects] were [unfairly] targeted and are angry with the naming of some of their political leaders; most of the IDPs have not been well informed on the ICC's procedures." 

Since Ocampo's announcement, there has been some effort in Kenya to raise awareness of the ICC's mechanisms and to assist IDPs caught up in the violence to exert their right to have their stories told in The Hague.

For the IDPs still in camps, lack of justice is not their only concern; lack of adequate government assistance persists.

Susan Wainaina, an IDP at Pipeline camp in Nakuru, said: "We are supposed to be given relief food every month, but sometimes we do not get it at all. It has been four months since we got some save for the little we got before Christmas."


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

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