Lamu terror IDPs now turn to land grabbing

Some of the Lamu terror IDPs. PHOTO: NATASHA NEMA.

Lamu, KENYA: Terror IDPs in Lamu County are now on the spot over claims of land grabbing.

Over 1000 IDPs are still staying at the Katsaka Kairu IDP camp in Witu division in Lamu West.

The IDPs are now said to be grabbing lands in the area and even setting up permanent residences without the owners’ knowledge.

Six months ago, the national government ordered all terror IDPs in Lamu to leave camps and go back to their homes with assurances for adequate security.

That has however not been the case as the IDPs who are mostly from Nyongoro and Maleli areas adamantly refused to budge and have remained in the camps ever since.

However, the current trend of land grabbing by the IDPs has irked many who are now demanding the forceful eviction of the IDPs from the camps.

There are growing fears that the trend could result in a full-blown conflict between the IDPs and residents in the areas.

Among the grabbed lands include a 60-acre piece of land set aside in 1993 for the establishment of a Market centre in Katsaka Kairu.

Area chief Charo Karisa says the area has been witnessing a growing number land conflicts arising from the behavior of the IDPs.

“They have been asked to leave but months down the line, they are still here.But that’s not even the issue, they are now grabbing lands that don’t belong to them.Our biggest concern, however, is that the situation could result in conflict,” said Kaviha.

The IDPs have however accused the government of cruelty for wanting them to back to ‘death traps’ and without nothing to start over their lives with.

They are also demanding compensation for time wasted in the camps and any losses incurred during that period they have been in camps.

The IDPs say they don’t believe a word when the government says security has been restored and that they should go back home.

They are also demanding compensation for the time wasted at the camps and their resources back home that have either been destroyed or stolen.

Ruth Saanyu, an IDP says they deserve a send-off package from the government to enable them to start their lives once they leave the camps.

It should be noted that not all terror IDPs went to the camps voluntarily, in early July last year,the government ordered residents of villages bordering the Boni forest to move out of their homes and into the IDP camps in order to allow security forces deal with Alshabaab who were believed to be hiding inside the forest.

The IDPs have unanimously agreed not to leave the camp if their conditions aren’t met.

“First of all they cant just tell us its safe and that we should go back yet we cant feel what they are saying.As IDPs we feel the situation is still not right for us to go back home.Plus, we demand to be compensated for time wasted here and resources back home.Many of us had crops of our farms which have so far been eaten by wild animals.Our homes have been robbed clean.If they don’t settle us, we will settle ourselves,” said Saanyu.