Fear Keeps Displaced Kenyans in Limbo

April 30, 2008 12:06 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Many Kenyans who fled their homes in the wake of post-election chaos are afraid to return, instead remaining in crowded camps or relocating along ethnic lines.

30-Second Summary

According to the Associated Press, more than four months after the flawed presidential election resulted in weeks of ethnic violence, approximately 157,000 Kenyans who were driven from their homes are still living in camps.

Now, President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga want to see internally displaced persons (IDPs) return to their original homes. “We want a Kenya of peace, where everyone can live where they want,” said Odinga.

However, many displaced Kenyans remain fearful of violence in their former neighborhoods, or had their land stolen after they fled. Others were moved to Uganda, where crowded refugee camps are on the brink of famine, according to the Salvation Army.

Camps near Nairobi are being threatened by torrential April rains that ruin tent settlements and spread diseases, reports The New York Times. The camps are within view of mansions, expensive cars and shopping malls in the capital.

The UN High Committee for Refugees has recommended that “displaced people should not be forced to go back home unless the Kenyan government guarantees safe, voluntary and dignified resettlement,” reports the East African Standard.

While any resettlement seems favorable to camps, dividing Kenyans into ethnic enclaves to avoid violent uprisings may not be the best solution. “In the long run, it sets back the level of integration that had been achieved between communities,” said an editorial in Kenyan newspaper the Daily Nation.

Meanwhile, according to Relief Web, close to 150,000 Kenyan children remain homeless, and many display symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Headline Links: Displaced Kenyans look for a way out

Background Links: The election and disastrous fallout

Related Links: Homeless children and refugees in Uganda

Opinion & Analysis: A step backwards for integration


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