Lamu politicians faulted for inciting terror IDPs

Linda Boni operation director Joseph Kanyiri at his office. PHOTO: NATASHA NEMA.

Lamu, KENYA: Lamu politicians have been put on the spot for frustrating government efforts to dissolve terror IDP camps in the county.

A section of politicians are even said to have coerced IDPs who had left the camps and gone back to their homes to return to the camps and demand for monetary compensation from the government.

Following Al-Shabaab attacks in Pandanguo, Jima, Poromoko and Maleli in mid last year, villagers fled to IDP camps in Katsaka Kairu and at the Witu AIC church.

Four months have since elapsed since the national government issued a directive requiring the over 2000 terror IDPs who had been putting up at the Katsaka Kairu and Witu AIC church camps to go back to their homes with assurances that security had been intensified.

However, despite the directive, over 1200 people are still living at the Katsaka Kairu camp in Lamu west and say they won’t leave until they receive monetary compensation from the government for losses incurred and time wasted while they were IDPs.

Speaking in Lamu on Monday, Linda Boni operation director Joseph Kanyiri said politicians and especially those who lost in the last general election had been going around villages in Maleli, Kakathe, Taa and Nyongoro coercing residents to go back to IDP camps and demand compensation from the government.

He said it was unrealistic and unfortunate for the IDPs to be confused and poisoned by politicians who only want to make political mileage and don’t have their interests at heart.

Kanyiri said the situation has jeopardized their efforts to have the IDPs go back home since the security situation in their villages was normalized.

He asked politicians in the county to stop playing politics with the lives of IDPs and said such a move only hurts the latter.

Kanyiri stated that the government would not compensate any terror IDP in the county and asked them to stop heeding political propaganda and instead go back to their homes and develop their lives.

He said their continued stay at the camps make them vulnerable and easy targets by the enemy and urged them to go back to their homes where security has been optimized.

“We are aware there are politicians who are opposed to the camps being closed because apparently, they won’t have a channel to make political statements like they have been doing with the camps.These politicians are telling IDPs to demand monetary compensation from government first.Such demands are unrealistic.The government shall have no plan to compensate any IDP.People should just go home and make a living.In case of any aid, only those at home will benefit,”said Kanyiri.

A county administrator who spoke on condition of anonymity said politicians who lost the last general election had ganged up and were responsible for asking the IDPs not to go back home making it impossible to dissolve the Katsaka Kairu camp which is the biggest.

He said since the government stopped giving aid to the IDPs, the majority are even ready to work while at the camps to sustain themselves as they await compensation.

“That’s why out of the 2,500 IDPs, only 1,300 decided to go back to their homes. The rest have been convinced by the politicians that they will be paid by the national government. That’s why despite the government’s move to stop giving any aid to the IDPs at the camp, many of them have decided to work and maintain themselves while at the camp with the expectation of getting compensation from the government,” he said.