National government declines to compensate Lamu terror IDPs

Katsaka Kairu IDP camp which is the largest in Lamu county. PHOTO: COURTESY.

Lamu, KENYA: The national government will not compensate terror IDPs in Lamu County for losses, damages and time spent at the IDP camps.

The IDPs had sought to be compensated for their crops which they said were destroyed by wild animals and herders after they fled Al-Shabaab attacks in Jima, Poromoko, Pandanguo, Maleli and Nyongoro villages months ago.

The terror IDPs also wanted to be compensated for the entire period they have been at the camps and said the money will help them rebuild their lives since they will have to start from scratch once they leave the camps.

However, Lamu County Commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo has categorically stated that the government will do no such thing since it wasn’t their fault that the villagers ended up in the IDP camps in the first place.

Speaking in his Lamu office on Wednesday,Kitiyo said the government can only promise security and stability and nothing more.

Over 2,500 residents mostly farmers are living as IDPs at the Kastaka Kairu and Witu AIC church camps in Lamu West after they fled their homes and villages owing to constant Alshabaab attacks that left several civilians and security officers dead between July and September this year.

He said it wasn’t the duty of the government to compensate the IDPs for being away from their homes but rather to offer protection and that they would do that to the latter.

“The government will and shall not compensate anyone for anything.It wasn’t the government’s fault that people ended up in IDP camps in the first place.The government is doing everything possible to restore normalcy and that’s what we should all focus on.Our aim is to ensure security and that’s what we are doing,” said Kitiyo.

He said the government would not also compensate those whose areas have been imposed with a dusk to dawn curfew.

Residents of Basuba,Milimani,Mangai,Mararani and Kiangwe had sought compensation for destruction of their crops which they said they aren’t in a position to guard at night due to the existence of the curfew.

Kitiyo however said it wasn’t deliberate and for nothing that the curfew had been imposed in the areas, but that it was for the greater good of Lamu and the security of the region.

“The curfew is here for our own good.We have seen how much the security situation has improved since the curfew came.If you tell us to pay you because there is a curfew in your areas then that’s very unreasonable,”he said.

He said it wasn’t the government intention that any resident be denied their freedom of movement but that at this particular time,it was necessary.

Kitiyo said the government was working on a safe and reliable ‘return home’formula for the IDPs in the coming days once calm and security have been restored.

He said in the meantime,the government shall continue to take care of the IDPs in all ways possible in order to ensure their lives are comfortable at the camps until the time comes when all will be clear for them to go back to their homes.

The commissioner however warned the IDPs against secretly returning to their villages and said such a move would be suicide.

“Don’t go home yet,be patient and wait some more for things to go back to normal.I know many of you want to go back to yourn farms and so forth but going back home secretly is suicide and we don’t want that.Just wait,when the time is right,we shall release you to safer homes unlike now,”said Kitiyo.