Kenyan minister booed by
Tuesday, 12th February, 2008
By Daniel Edyegu
DRAMA ensued at Mulanda transit
centre in Tororo district on Monday when Kenyan refugees booed
their home minister for special programmes, Dr. Naomi Shaban, when
she tried to downplay the security situation in Kenya and urged
them to return home.
Shaban holds a child while
talking to Kenyan refugees at Mulanda transit centre
The minister, while reacting to a memorandum from the refugees to
the Kenyan government, said calm had returned to some parts of the
western province following heavy deployment of security personnel.
According to humanitarian agencies, there are about 12,000 Kenyan
refugees in Uganda.
The refugees had asked the minister to explain the security
situation at home since more refugees were being ferried to the
centre, the education plans the Kenyan government had for their
children and how the victims of the violence would be helped.
"In Busia-Kenya, the situation has normalised. Some of you who
stay along the border can go back home," Shaban said before she
Infuriated, she responded: "Even if you boo me, it will not help.
Those who want to come back home can do so. If you feel it is
safer in the camp, that is okay. We are not going to force anybody
to return home."
The refugees were dissatisfied with the explanation the minister
and her delegation gave about the compensation for the victims of
They said most of them had lost property and were not certain
whether their former communities would peacefully accept them
"You are telling us to go back home, but where do we start? Some
of us had property, land and houses in Kenya but they were
destroyed. We cannot be sure of calm back home when more refugees
are being brought to Mulanda," Peter Karanja, a refugee, said.
John Njoroge Wanaina, 69, said he saw gangs burn houses and loot
property in Marachi while the Kenyan police watched.
"The police would only shoot in the air after the damage was done.
Have you reshuffled these policemen for our safety?" he wondered.
Shaban said President Mwai Kibaki's government had set up a
resettlement scheme to cater for the refugees.
"The verification exercise is on. There are people who claim they
lost property yet they did not. We can only ascertain what you
lost and start compensation after the exercise is over and people
Shaban was in Mulanda to assesss the living conditions of the