Lamu terror IDPs demand compensation before leaving

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

Lamu, KENYA: Terror IDPs in Lamu are angry that the national government decided to send them back to their homes without a penny to start their lives over with.

The IDPs have been demanding compensation for the losses incurred on their farms and homes while they were away at the camps and also for time wasted at the camps and not doing any meaningful development.

Speaking in their the camps on Thursday, the over 2500 IDPs who are mostly from Pandanguo, Jima, Poromoko, Kakathe, Maleli, Nyongoro and all areas bordering the now infamous Boni forest have said they will not leave the camps until they’re given something since they have nothing.

While some of the IDPS fled their homes following Alshabaab attacks in their respective villages that left several people dead,others were ordered to vacate their homes and move into the camps in order to pave way for the security operation Linda Boni, which is meant to flush out Alshabaab militants from marked hotspots including and surrounding the Boni forest.

They IDPs have been staying at the Katsaka Kairu and Witu AIC church camps since July this year.

However on Tuesday this week,Lamu county commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo announced that the IDPs were now free to leave the camps and return to their homes anytime they so wished.

Kitiyo 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 and assured them of enough security officers.

“Its has been quite a task maintaining them there and very soon the supplies will stop and I hope by then they will have gone since our security forces have done a good job to ensure security is restored back in their homes,”said Kitiyo.

The IDPS have however sworn not to barge until the national government compensates them for the losses they have incurred while at the camps arguing that its inhuman to send them back when they had nothing to start their lives with.

They said it wasn’t their fault that they ended up in the camps in the first place but rather it was the fault of the national government for failing to protect them in their homes and as such it was only proper that they be paid damages for all they have been through.

“We left everything behind thinking out homes will be protected.But contrary to that,our crops were destroyed by wildlife animals,our homes were robbed and basically there is nothing to go back home to.Then the government just tells us to back,and then what?What do we eat,how do we survive?Its impossible.They must pay us for all that first,”said Simon Mgumba.

Other IDPs said they don’t trust that security has been restored as the security agencies claim and demanded that the government establish KDF and police posts in their villages before they can even think of going back.

Justin Kadenge said even though they missed their homes,majority of the IDPs still felt more secure at the camps despite the tough life they are exposed to.

The county commissioner has however categorically stated that there will be no single penny as compensation for the IDPs.

“We wont pay a dime in the name of compensation to the IDPs.We are sorry they found themselves in that situation but we have done our best to ensure the situation is back to normal.The best compensation we can give at this point is the assuarance that their homes are now safe for them to go back to,”said Kitiyo.

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