23 November 2012

Kenya: Forest Evictees and IDPs Give Up On Resetlement

Mau and Embobut forests evictees yesterday said they have given up on being resettled before the March 4 elections.

The government has been unable to get land where the forest evictees and remaining batch of IDPs will be resettled, despite the Sh2.3 billion for the resettlement having been released.

"We now fear that with only a month before Parliament is dissolved, time is running out and there will be no one to fight for our rights," Jane Kosgey, a leader of the Embobut evictees, said.

Kosgey, who was speaking to the Star in Eldoret, said they have given up hope of being resettled because the leaders who should be fighting for their rights are engaged in election campaigns. "Our plight will be used by those seeking to be elected in next years elections," Kosgey said.

She said more than 10,000 people evicted from the Embobut forest have been living in camps at market centres for the last four years. Kosgey said they lack proper shelter, water, food and education for their children.

Resssetlement for the Mau evictees begaun last month after 400 of the evicted families were moved to Rongai. However, more land is yet to be found for the the remaining 3,000 families.

"We will still push to have the families given new homes ahead of the general elections," said Cooperative Development assistant minister, Linah Kilimo.

Speaking on the phone, Kilimo said the rights of those evicted from forests have to be respected by the government. The Embobut evictees rejected a piece of land which had been identified for them in Nakuru, arguing that it is semi arid.

A section of the 2007-08 post-election violence IDPs and forest evictees have refused to register as voters unless the government gives them new homes.

Some of the more than 200 families of IDPs living at the Naka IDP camp in Eldoret said they are losing hope of ever getting new homes as the year comes to an end.

"It is because of elections that we went to live in camps. We are now being told to register and vote again yet we are still living like wild animals. We will not register," said James Kimani, an IDP. Some of the IDPs however said they will register as voters.

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