The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: 24,000 People to Remain in Mau Forest

MORE than 24,000 people living in the Mau Forest Complex will not be evicted because of complications in resettling evictees.

The government is yet to give alternative land to 3,000 families which were evicted from the forest three years ago. The Task Force spearheading restoration of the forest has advised the government that more evictions will lead to a humanitarian crisis.

The Task Force, headed by Hassan Noor, said they will look for alternative means to conserve the water tower involving the communities. A report on the conservation has been prepared for the Prime Minister's office which is handling the Mau Forest conservation programme. Raila visited the South Rift region last month and promised that all evictees will be resettled soon.

To date the government is yet to acquire more than 10,000 acres of land to resettle the evictees and other IDPs. Special Programmes PS Andrew Mondoh said the government is still searching for the land to give to IDPs and families evicted from Mau, Kipkurere and Embobut forests.

Assistant minister Linah Kilimo said the government should speed up the process of resettlement of the families ahead of the next polls. Kipkurere and Embobut are also key water sources for most of the main rivers.

Most of the families evicted from the water towers are still living in temporary camps in the Rift Valley region. Kilimo said those evicted from the Embobut forest have suffered for long because the process of relocating them to new homes has taken too long. While more than 3,000 families were evicted from the Embobut forest another 1,000 were removed from the Kipkurere forest.

Ken Wafula from the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said the government should speed up the resettlement of the landless families before the elections. "It will not be good for these people who were evicted by the government from their homes to remain homeless as we approach the polls," Wafula said. He said the next polls should be a source of stability for Kenyans and the families should not suffer as the country heads into the polls.

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