Looming conflict as Lamu terror IDP’s refuse to leave camp

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

Lamu, KENYA: Concerns are rising concerning the recent behavior of persons displaced by Alshabaab attacks in Katsaka Kairu camp Lamu county.

 At least 400 terror IDPs are still pitting up in the camp one year after they were ordered out and the camp declared closed raising tensions between locals and the IDP’s.

Kairu area chief Kaviha Karisa said the IDPs were now encroaching and grabbing lands belonging to locals in the area and setting up residences.

The chief said the situation could easily cause conflicts is not stopped.

“Those who remained in the camps are doing everything they can to influence those who left to come back. Some grabbing lands while others are openly encroaching. I don’t like where this whole situation is heading,there is bound to be trouble unless they are stopped,” said Karisa.

Locals of Katsaka Kairu are already calling for the forceful eviction of the IDPs who are now viewed as pure troublemakers.

Residents of Pandanguo,Jima,Poromoko,Kakathe,Maleli and Nyongoro villages had fled to the camp after a series of Al Shabaab raids left several people dead and houses torched.

Others had been asked to move to the camp so as to pave way for a security operation that had been mounted in pursuit of the Al Shabaab militants who are believed to still be hiding inside the Boni forest.

However, in October 2017, the national government ordered the more than 2000 IDPs to disperse and head back to their homes with assurances that enough security measures had been made for them.

In as much as the majority of the IDPs headed to the directive and left for their homes, a good number especially those from Nyongoro and Maleli have remained adamant claiming that the security in their home villages was still wanting and as such they felt unsafe going back.

Mariam Kachimbi, a mother of four who lost her husband to Al Shabaab in 2017 swears that she can’t risk taking her children back to the village as they might get killed by the militants whom she believes still lurk around.

“I come from Maleli and unlike other villages, it’s well known for frequent Al Shabaab raids and murders.I can never go back there. At the moment no amount of words can make me leave this camp, even if they throw us out of this camp, I will never go back to that village. They killed my husband and can as well decide to come for me and the children,” said Kachimbi.

Rama Kahindi, another IDP accused the government of cruelty for wanting them to go back to ‘open graveyards and with nothing to start over with.

Kahindi says the government must first compensate them for time wasted in the camps and for the losses incurred in their farms and homes for the entire period they have been in camps.

“The government knows the life of an IDP very well since we are not the first in Kenya and they equally understand that you can’t just wake up and tell us to go back home empty-handed. They must sort us out so we know we have somewhere to start from when we decide to finally leave,” said Kahindi.