Lamu terror IDP’s urged to go back home

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

Lamu, KENYA: Terror IDPs who have been living in IDP camps in Lamu after they fled their homes following Alshabaab attacks have been asked to go back to their homes.

Over 2000 IDPs have been putting up at the Katsaka Kairu and Witu AIC church camps since July this year.

The IDPs are majorly from Pandanguo, Jima, Poromoko, Kakathe, Maleli, Nyongoro villages and other areas bordering the infamous Boni forest in Lamu.

While a majority of the IDPs had literally fled into the camps due to insecurity, some of the IDPs had been asked to vacate their homes and move into the camps in order to pave way for a security operation meant to hunt down Al-Shabaab militants who were said to roam and frustrate their areas.

Speaking in Lamu on Tuesday, Lamu county commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo said the order had been restored in all the affected villages and that the IDPs were free to leave for their homes anytime they wished.

Kitiyo, however, said they were not forcing anyone to move out and that whoever felt they still aren’t comfortable going back were free to continue staying at the camps and that they shall still be taken care off until they are psychologically ready to make the decision to go back home.

He said the security forces had been able to neutralize Alshabaab militants, who had been terrorizing the villages and said he was confident that the villagers will be safe in their homes and had nothing to worry about.

He said he saw no need for the IDPs to continue staying in the camps when their homes were now safe to return to and urged them to go back.

“We are however not forcing them to return home.We are just telling that that their villages are now safer than ever and they can choose to go back or stay at the camps a little longer because we understand some aren’t psychologically up to it yet.We shall still take care of those who choose to remain in the camps.But we want to assure them that the Alshabaab threat on their villagers has been dealt with and safety restored,” said Kitiyo.

He said enough security officers and also police reservists-KPR have been deployed to all villages to ensure those who choose to go back are assured of a 24-hour protection.

“We have deployed over 200 KPR officers and enough police officers to all the villages where the IDPs are to return to.The officers will be there permanently just to ensure round the clock surveillance.They shouldn’t worry,” said Kitiyo.

This comes at a time when the national government is still pushing ahead with the Boni Enclave Campaign, a security operation meant to flush out Al-Shabaab militants in various parts of the county but majorly the Boni forest.

A week ago, officers conducting the operation killed four Alshabaab militants at Mararani area in Lamu East and recovered among other things four AK47 rifles, three grenades, mobile phones,bomb-making paraphernalia, and foodstuffs.

The Boni Enclave Campaign Director Joseph Kanyiri said the security operation will go on until security, peace, and calm are restored in Lamu and other counties bordering the Boni forest including Tana River and Garissa counties.