Focus shifting to recovery,
resettlement of IDPs
NAIROBI, 5 March 2008 (IRIN) - After two months of post-election
violence, the humanitarian focus is shifting to help the hundreds
of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to recover and
rebuild their lives.
"The resettlement of IDPs and livelihood recovery are some of the
main areas we are now focusing on," Jeanine Cooper, the head of
the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA-Kenya),
said on 3 March. "We are putting in place measures to ensure that
those affected can rebuild their lives."
The move from emergency response to recovery efforts comes as
negotiations to end Kenya's political crisis focused on long-term
issues and solutions. This last item on the talks' agenda includes
addressing poverty, inequitable distribution of resources and
perceptions of historical injustices and exclusion of segments of
Analysts say these issues have constituted the underlying causes
of social tensions, instability and the cycle of violence in the
The negotiators, who achieved a major breakthrough with the
signing of a power-sharing agreement on 28 February between
President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, have in
the past two days discussed constitutional, legal and
Other areas of discussion have included tackling poverty and
inequity; unemployment, particularly among the youth;
consolidating national cohesion and unity; and land reforms, as
well as transparency, accountability and impunity.
On 4 March, Nigeria's former foreign minister, Oluyemi Adeniji,
who took over as mediator from former UN Secretary-General Kofi
Annan, announced the creation of three new bodies: the Truth,
Justice and Reconciliation Commission; the Commission of Inquiry
on Post-Election Violence; and the Independent Review Committee on
the 2007 elections.
The parties, he said, had defined the parameters for
investigations, how the commissioners would be selected, the
time-frame and the general powers of these bodies. They had also
agreed on a process and roadmap for comprehensive constitutional
Humanitarian agencies say progress in the talks has led to the
initial relocation and return of some IDPs. A framework for
relocation, resettlement and reintegration has been developed by
aid agencies and will be used once this begins in earnest.
Ramesh Rajasingham, the head of IDP policy for OCHA, said the UN
in particular would assist the Kenyan government to resolve the
problem of IDPs who were forced out of their homes by violence
between late December and February.
Three options were available, in line with the UN's guiding
principles on internal displacement: the displaced going back to
the homes from where they fled; resettling in another part of the
country or reintegrating in the area of displacement.
"Whatever the option, this should be done voluntarily; the UN and
the government would only support the IDPs in whatever decision
they make," Rajasingham said on 3 March.
The UN's 30 guiding principles on internal displacement, which
were developed in the late 1990s, identify the rights and
guarantees relevant for the protection of IDPs and their
assistance during displacement as well as during return or
resettlement or reintegration.
One of the principles relating to return, resettlement and
reintegration states: "Competent authorities have the primary duty
and responsibility to establish conditions, as well as provide the
means, which allow internally displaced persons to return
voluntarily, in safety and with dignity, to their homes or places
of habitual residence, or to resettle voluntarily in another part
of the country. Such authorities shall endeavour to facilitate the
reintegration of returned or resettled internally displaced
IDPs who have returned to their homes or who have resettled in
another part of the country, the principles note, shall not be
discriminated against as a result of their having been displaced.
Cooper said humanitarian actors in Kenya did not foresee an
immediate resolution of the humanitarian situation and would do
all they could to support IDPs in camps and those who have sought
refuge with neighbours, friends and relatives.
Conflict and land
Welcoming the signing of the power-sharing agreement, she urged
the parties to beware of the pitfalls they could encounter during
its implementation. The long-term problem of conflict and
displacement in Kenya, she added, had a link to land, even before
ethnicity, and solutions to the IDP situation would have to take
into account land policy.
"As humanitarians, we are in a much more precarious situation than
is perceived; the government has sought UN help in drafting a
resettlement policy for the IDPs and has also requested help with
the management of the fund it recently set up to help deal with
the displacement issue," Cooper said.
The fund operates under the newly created department of mitigation
and resettlement in the Ministry of Special Programmes. Kibaki has
pledged Ksh1 billion [US$14m] towards the fund and US President
George Bush has pledged a similar amount.
Cooper said the UN would support the government in reconciliation
and peace-building, stabilisation and reviving livelihoods, as
well as restoring and enhancing the capacity of basic services.
Aid agencies estimate that up to 300,000 IDPs are in camps while a
similar number could be displaced but not in camps. An estimated
1,500 people died in the post-election violence, according to