Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Is it realistic to expect the internally displaced in Kenya to return to their homes

There was a discussion on the need to move people to where they're safe, whether it is to their original regions or back to where they've been displaced from, but the issue in all cases is security," she said.

In a statement following the day's session, the Kenyan parties said that they would "assist and encourage displaced persons to go back to their homes or other areas and to have safe passage and security throughout."

The UN's top official on the human rights of IDPs, Walter Kälin, told IRIN said that basic principle for any movement of IDPs should be their own "free choice". However, he pointed out "you can only freely choose if you have different options available". It is "very common", he added, that IDPs "end up threatened from all sides and become political pawns". As well as efforts from the international community, "[national] authorities have the responsibility to create conditions that allow for such freedom to choose", he said, referring to rights and responsibilities laid out in the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.

Abbas Gullet, head of the KRCS, told IRIN that organised relocation of IDPs to their places of ethnic origin had to be considered, even though it raised political, ethical and legal issues.

"We are at a critical point ... this is an issue that needs to be seriously considered." He proposed that at least IDP women and children could go "back" voluntarily until things improved.

"We haven't said we're going to do it," Abbas said, acknowledging the dilemmas. "We don't want to be involved in any form of ethnic cleansing," he stressed. However, he argued that the IDPs themselves were asking to be moved to their areas of origin, and for those economic migrants without property, land or businesses, the relative security and opportunities for earning a living at "home" were compelling reasons to move voluntarily.

But while the IDPs' wishes should be paramount, the rule of law needed to be applied to prevent a domino effect: those returning to their ethnic homelands in need of land and livelihoods should not then forcibly displace minorities already there, said an international official working on IDP issues. He cited the example of Bosnia, where a division of the population along ethnic lines due to insecurity became a "fait accompli".

An analyst familiar with the legal issues told IRIN that "reinforcing evictions" by assisting relocations posed major ethical questions, especially where families had owned land for a generation or more outside their "homeland". Nevertheless, private citizens have been helping their ethnic kin to get out, he said, by providing cash or trucks. Unless continuous pressure is maintained to enforce IDPs' right to return to their land, a dangerous precedent would be set, where in future any group might feel able to say "well it wasn't their land 40 years ago" and make further violent land grabs. "We shouldn't go down that road," the analyst said; people are "choosing between poor options".

Lwanga said "having them [IDPs] in police stations is not right. [In the short term] maybe it's better to have them go back to their homes ... if it is voluntary".

Quotes from Officials grapple with implications of sending IDP's home.

I think that sending the internally displaced back to the areas where they have fled from is insensitive. If those areas were safe, the internally displaced, would not have fled from them. The issue is security.

How would you feel about returning to the area where you were raped, beaten and witnessed your friends and family being butchered?

I know that if I had been in that situation, I would never return to that area, and could never live alongside the perpetrators.

I think to suggest this to the victims of torture, is insensitive. I thought that the government(sigh) had set up a fund to accomodate the victims.

Healing for torture victims, or people who are traumatised can only take place if the victims are in a place of safety, and anyone who has done any work with people who are traumatised should know this. Returning the victims to the place where they were tortured can cause a secondary form of trauma, in my view.

I have not been in any of these areas, but am very clear that when I go back to Kenya, there are certain areas that will be on my no go list.

I believe what tribe you are does matter now.

I am not fooling myself that things can go back to the way they were, yet. I believe Tribal paranoia is healthy at this time.

Related articles: Kenya rivals to discuss power sharing proposals.

Kenyan death toll reaches 1000.


Related article: Peace corps suspends Kenya operations


Anonymous said...

It not realistic at all.Unless something of miracle happen.Kenyans need to movee on with ethnic majimbo and dismantling of neo colonialist state that included the all powerful head of state has to go out of window.Power should be distributed to prime minister,president,parliament and region powers.Then once it done freedom of movement is possibe,otherwise it back to blood bath.

Tamtam said...


The idea of dividing the country up, didn't appeal to me before, but if that is a way of solving the problem, I am for it.

Daniel Waweru said...

I'm afraid I disagree. Returning IDPS to their supposed ethnic homelands would, as you point out, set a terrible precedent.

Further, we've already seen how returning IDPs have fuelled retaliation: once they inform others at 'home' of the atrocities that have happened to them, a new wave of ethnic cleansing is set off.

IDPs who return to their 'ethnic homelands' will inevitably lose property: even if a compensation fund is begun, they are extremely unlikely to get a fair price for their land or other property.

Confining IDPs to their supposed province of origin would also have serious manpower implications: it is an utter joke to wait until a new KARI is built in western Kenya before the Luo researchers can be reemployed (or to wait until they're poached abroad). There is absolutely no reason whatsoever why they cannot be given extra security and invited to return to KARI right away, there to continue their work.

The arguments you present from the need to heal in a safe environment are not compelling: it is perfectly possible to phase the return of IDPs to their previous places of residence, so that they only return when they feel able to do so.

In any case, to maintain the present state of things, in which
one's ethnicity precludes one from going to certain parts, is quite simply to give up on anything resembling a modern liberal-ish state.

Finally, the perpetrators of the ethnic cleansing fully intend to create facts on the ground. We have absolutely no business acquiescing in their plan.

Acolyte said...

Anyone with half a brain can tell that telling these people to go back will not work esp in some cases since their homes have been burned down and there is still a high level of hostility awaiting them when they go back.
The government needs to get some of the land that some leading KEnyan families have stockpiled, buy it from them and give it to those people to re-settle.

Anonymous said...

Recruitment, Training, Indoctrination And Operations Of Kalenjin Ethnic Cleansing Terror Gangs

Tamtam said...


There are no easy answers to this situation.

I feel safety is essential for all IDP's.

At this moment and time, I believe that is not something that is guaranteed from the government.

Can we depend on this government to give extra security to IDP's?

It seems that security is given selectively, which is not right.

All the psychological research on trauma points to the need to heal in a safe environment.

Post Traumatic stress syndrome cannot be taken lightly, in my experience.

Please have a look at the books I recommend on my sidebar, which will confirm this.

Have you ever worked with victims of torture in a psychological capacity?

You are right IDP's should return when they feel able to do so, but need to be given that choice.

I am saddened that in Kenya today, we are unable to move freely, and hope that things can go back to the way they were at some point.

Whether that is possible, is another matter.


We think alike. The few individuals who own most of the land in Kenya, need to give that land up to these IDP's.

Who in their right mind, would want to go back to their home, with the militia's and divided police force that we have at the moment.

I have no faith in the security services at the moment.