Kenya: It is a dog’s life for IDPs as leaders spread gospel of fixing Ruto

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The prayer caravan for the salvation of Deputy President William Ruto and his crimes against humanity co-accused Joshua arap Sang heads to Meru on Sunday.

The political elite of more than 100 MPs from the ruling Jubilee coalition and their allies will attend.

Across the country in Mombasa, Nairobi, Eldoret, Kisumu and Kisii, there will be another class of Kenyans making their own pleas for divine intervention.

Nearly a decade after the mindless violence for which Mr Ruto and Mr Sang are in court, thousands of Kenyans who were displaced from their homes are still in camps.

Some 1,133 people were killed in the violence and nearly 600,000 uprooted from their homes and businesses.

While the government has spent nearly Sh15 billion on resettlement, many victims still languish in camps and homes of relatives, unsure of what the future holds.

Analysts fear that the rhetoric at the so-called prayer rallies on who fixed who may lead to another round of violence ahead of the 2017 elections.

A spot check by the Saturday Nation in camps around the country revealed a picture of desperate families living in squalid conditions without basic amenities.

RESETTLEMENT BIAS

On Monday, the Senate cited bias in the resettlement, questioning the criteria used by the government to pay some households Sh400,000 while others got a paltry Sh10,000 and others have not received a single cent.

In September last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta launched Sh3.2 billion cash payment programme to mark the closure of all IDP camps.

In this years’ budget, an additional Sh2.2 billion was allocated by the Finance Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich. Yet many victims still live in camps.

Among them is 92-year-old Jesse Kamunya, who was uprooted from his home in Elgeyo Marakwet, and now lives in a camp in Eldoret Town.

“We do not understand why the government has subjected us to such suffering while some of our colleagues have long been settled. Our fate now remains with God,” he said.

Unlike the rest of the IDPs, who stayed in camps and waited for the government’s help, those in western Kenya were largely received by their relatives.

“We got integrated into the society. We forced ourselves into our relatives’ houses and have since been staying there,” Mr Nelson Owegi, an IDP network Nyanza chairman told the Saturday Nation.

EXPECTATIONS DASHED

In Kisumu, Mr Morris Opondo lost both limbs when he was attacked in Juja, Kiambu County, on January 18, 2008.

He lost his Sh2 million stock in his mobile phone accessory shop that he had spent 17 years to build.

In Nyamira County, the IDPs moved to the High Court to compel the government to pay them their share of the compensation. This week, the victims led by the Rev Nemwel Momanyi, travelled from far and wide to hear the determination of their petition.

However, their expectations were dashed after it emerged the ruling had been postponed to November 10.

Dorca Nyarinda, who stays with her relatives in Ekerenyo, Nyamira County, said her children had dropped out of school because she could no longer raise money for school fees.

“I am staying with my brother who has children in school …. I don’t expect him to help me pay my children’s school fees now that he is accommodating me,” she said.

COMING RAINS

She lost everything when her home in Nandi Hills was destroyed.

Those in camps are expecting the worst with the coming rains.

“Our tents are worn out and there are no signs of replacement. Life is just too miserable here while the government seems not to be concerned about our plight,” said Veronica Wanjiku, a mother of one who lives in the Eldoret camp.

“The government has the financial capability to get us out of this suffering but there is lack of good will from some senior officials who do not want to implement our resettlement process,” said Mercy Wairimu, another victim at the camp.

As much as they welcomed political prayers seeking divine intervention for Mr Ruto and Mr Sang, the IDPs want the government to allocate them money to buy land in safer areas so that they can settle peacefully.

“Reconciliation is essential for peaceful co-existence but why should the political class waste such huge sums of money on prayers while we are being neglected,” questioned Ms Wanjiku.

A report released by the Norwegian Refugee Council, an international organisation, says that Kenya had no accurate database on IDPs. United Nations Refugee agency, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Activities (OCHA) shows that there has been 309,200 IDPs in Kenya since 2012, but the figure comes with many caveats.

IGNITE VIOLENCE

It includes an unverified number, thought be around 250,000, who have fled ethnic, political and land-related violence since the 1990s and continue to live in protracted displacement.

It also includes around 50,000 registered IDPs who fled the 2007 and 2008 post-election violence.

Political pundits are warning that the prayers, coming just two years ahead of the 2017 elections, have the potential to ignite another round of violence and hence create more internal refugees. Lawyer Donald Kipkorir says the rallies were resurrecting the ghosts of 2007/2008.

“In the 2007 elections, we sunk to the lowest as a country. And now, as we cross mid-way to next elections, we return to those primeval and “cemetery politics. How does finding out who “fixed who” assist us now?’’ he posted on his Facebook page.

He asked Ainabkoi MP Samuel Chepkong’a, who is to lead a parliamentary team to open the Waki envelope to abandon his efforts.

“What if someone had sneaked in his name, or even mine! We must focus on 2030 and not be distracted by reflective side mirror showing us 2007/2008! Let’s not release the tribal genie out of the bottle.”

In Nyeri County, those who are camping at Wiyumiririe on Thursday blocked the Nyeri Nyahururu Road in protest against illegal grazing on their plots by their neighbouring pastoralist community.

“We are starving. We do not receive aid anymore and the little crops we grow are grazed by the Samburu,” said an agitated Ms Tabitha Wanjiru.

WAR OF WORDS

In Mombasa, more than 1,000 IDPs are crying foul over biased treatment in the government compensation programme.

With the government having given affected people in Rift Valley at least Sh400,000 to settle down, the Mombasa County victims claim they were given Sh10,000 for buying household items.

“I had looked for a job with little success. Tools and other machines which I had saved Sh174,000 for years to buy were taken away in a couple of minutes. That incident trapped me into poverty that I was trying to free myself from,” Mr Joseph Maina said.

Mrs Margaret Wangari, whose shop was looted, said the International Criminal Court cases have eclipsed the ordinary victims’ suffering.

“The debate over who was behind the chaos has raised a war of words between the leaders. Before the actual victims recover, spats of hate speech are flying from leaders allied to the ruling coalition and the Opposition. Nobody remembers those whose lives were set ablaze, but those whose reputation is at stake,” she said.

After waiting for the failed compensation by the government, Mr John Gatimu, says he is grateful for life.

“I thank God that I am alive. But they stole my means of life. Vandalising and taking away all my customers’ doors, windows, gates and other metals strangled and buried my once vibrant metal workshop,” he said.

Mr Francis Kariuki, 40, said many other people who watched others being hacked, raped and roughed are “slowly rotting” as all attention remains on Mr Ruto and Mr Sang.

Daily Nation

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