Kenya: IDPs' significant needs remain as inter-communal violence increases
Pastoralist IDPs from Baragoi (Photo: IDMC/Loikas - Maralal, November 2012)
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31 December 2012
In 2012, 118,000 people were estimated to have been newly displaced in Kenya as a result of inter-communal clashes and violence linked to struggles over natural resources, compounded by ethnic, economic and political factors. Local conflicts became more frequent and intense ahead of the March 2013 general election. Cattle rustling and conflicts between pastoralist communities led to displacement in the Tana River, Turkana, Moyale and Samburu counties. These tensions, which were also said to have had a political dimension, arguably constituted the most neglected humanitarian and development problem in Kenya. Tens of thousands of people were also displaced across the country as a result of natural disasters.
Kenya’s largest displacement in recent years followed the disputed presidential election of December 2007. When the results were contested, widespread politically-motivated violence displaced more than 650,000 people. About 300,000 IDPs sought refuge in host communities, while the remainder fled to around 100 camps. In 2008 the government launched Operation Rudi Nyumbani, or “return home”, in an effort to close the camps and facilitate IDPs’ return or resettlement. The number of people who are still internally displaced as a result of the post-election violence as of the end of 2012 is unclear, and the results of a planned verification exercise are still to be released.
Large numbers of IDPs were unable to return home or rebuild their lives elsewhere, especially those who did not own land and those who, in the absence of meaningful reconciliation, feared new attacks from the people who displaced them. Many were still living in tattered tents or under tarpaulins. The government and national and international humanitarian organisations have responded to displacement, but some serious protection concerns have gone unaddressed. In 2011, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of IDPs found that the protection and assistance provided had been “largely inadequate”, compromising IDPs’ basic rights to shelter, food, water and sanitation and their access to basic services such as schools and health clinics.
There was no comprehensive national data on IDPs available in 2012 . A registration exercise was undertaken in 2007 and 2008 for those who were displaced by the post-election violence, but the methodology applied was often inaccurate and not disaggregated, and some Kenyan rights groups questioned the transparency of the process. Since unregistered IDPs are much less visible and often barely recognised as internally displaced at all, they have been largely excluded from assistance and protection programmes or have received support only sporadically. Nonetheless, it was estimated that in December 2012 around 300,000 people were still living either among host communities or in the few remaining camps, settlements and transit sites.
The government made laudable progress towards the establishment of a legal and policy framework on internal displacement. The National Policy on the Prevention of Internal Displacement and the Protection and Assistance to IDPs in Kenya was adopted by Cabinet in October 2012. This comprehensive policy was complemented by the Prevention, Protection and Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons and Affected Communities Bill, which set out an institutional framework for IDPs’ protection and assistance.
Despite the fact that 2012 saw both new displacements and the continued displacement of many of those previously displaced, the level of service provision and donor attention have declined rapidly, leaving significant humanitarian needs unaddressed. A gap remained between short-term humanitarian measures and the comprehensive medium and long-term initiatives that IDPs need to restart their lives and achieve durable solutions.
In April 2012, the humanitarian community began contingency planning for any large-scale displacement associated with the March 2013 elections, but by the end of the year it was not fully prepared to respond to this or to more localised medium-scale displacement in northern Kenya. Some donors indicated that they were ready to fund humanitarian responses to any potential displacement, but there was little appetite to support prevention and preparedness activities. Ongoing peace and reconciliation projects were at risk of being cut because of insufficient funding, despite such initiatives being critical to the achievement of durable solutions and the prevention of future displacement. Especially in light of the 2013 elections, there were fears that unaddressed grievances among IDPs and longstanding issues such as inequitable distribution of resources and land could easily fuel new conflict.
Kenya: New displacement due to inter-communal violence in two districts
Inter-communal violence in the Moyale district, near the Kenya-Ethiopia border, has caused internal and cross-border displacement of up to 60,000 people since August. Around 40,000 IDPs have found shelter in school buildings or with relatives and friends, but are unable to return home as tensions in the areas of displacement remain high although fighting has subsided. Security concerns have reduced access to those displaced, hampering the efforts of humanitarian actors to meet IDPs’ basic needs, including food, shelter and water. Inter-communal conflicts in Mandera and Wajir counties have also led to the displacement of over 11,000 people since June.
In addition, inter-communal clashes in Trans Mara West district in Narok County in the south-west of the country’s Rift Valley Province have displaced about 194 families since the beginning of September. Most of those displaced have taken shelter in police stations in the area.
The government’s response has thus far primarily focused on addressing the security situation and providing emergency relief. Addressing the root causes of these conflicts, including through the promotion of inter-communal dialogue and grass root reconciliation, remains a necessary step.
Tens of thousands displaced by severe floods in East Africa (18 April 2013)
An estimated 18,000 people have been displaced in Kenya since 19 March due to floods caused by unusually heavy rain. Floods have affected districts in nearly all parts of the country, though three quarters of those affected were inhabitants of the Coast Province and upper Eastern Province.
The Kenyan Red Cross is distributing food and non-food items to affected families, but medical care and additional food and shelter is still needed. In Kisumu County, the Nyanza provincial director of medical services has urged health officials in flood-prone areas to be on high alert, as the number of people suffering from water-borne diseases had increased .
On April 14, Deputy President William Ruto pledged Sh1.6 billion to contain floods and landslides, repair roads and buy food and basic necessities for the affected families. He added that the government would soon establish a disaster management authority , as recommended in the draft national disaster management p olicy developed in 2009.
Neighbouring areas of Somalia have experienced three times the normal levels of rainfall since 1 April, which have resulted in destroyed crops and displaced an unconfirmed number of people. According to a joint assessment mission to Abudwaq, heavy rain destroyed urban properties and IDP settlements . The most affected were IDPs living in dilapidated huts made of old sacks, clothes, cartons and sticks in four settlements located on low-lying ground near a natural water catchment; about 30% of residents of the settlements were displaced.
Floods have also destroyed homes in Burundi and triggered evacuations in Rwanda and Uganda due to average and above-average rainfall.
Kenya: Overlooked and neglected – the fate of displaced pastoralists in northern Kenya (29 November 2012)
Over 5000 pastoralists who fled a large scale military deployment in the north of Kenya two weeks ago remain largely unaccounted for. Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki had ordered the army to the town of Baragoi to respond to an armed ambush on police officers on 10 November. 42 officers, who were there to recover lost cattle, were killed during the attack.
Many of the internally displaced pastoralists from Baragoi, already vulnerable due to drought, fled with few possessions. Many, who were stranded in Samburu district and elsewhere, largely lacked assistance. Last week the Kenyan Red Cross delivered relief supplies to hundreds of families who had fled.
Localized conflicts in Kenya have become more frequent and intense in the run up to the 2013 elections. The formation of new tribe-based alliances signals a likely increase in flashpoints for conflict.
Kenya: Ethnic violence and displacement in Tana River district; a sign of worse to come? (20 September 2012)
While the violence that erupted between the Pokomo and Orma tribes on 13 August in Tana River district, where at least 116 people have been killed and more than 12,000 displaced, is widely seen as a dispute over water and land, some analysts are concerned that it is also linked to the upcoming general elections in March next year.
The previous conflict that arose following the 2007 elections resulted in one thousand people being killed and 600,000 internally displaced, and there are now fears that the recent violence in Tana River is a forerunner for worse things to come. Tensions are thought to be further fuelled by recent boundary changes where many villages and locations have been shifted into different constituencies.
In response to the recent killings and displacement, the Kenyan government belatedly sent in paramilitary reinforcement and introduced a night curfew. The Assistant Minister for Development and Livestock, Dhadho Godhana, has further been sacked for allegedly inciting the violence.
The Kenyan Red Cross is responding by offering much needed food and non-food items, shelter, relief and health services to people affected by the conflict, most of who have settled in temporary camps. However, there are real concerns over the scarcity of medical supplies and staff.
Kenya: New bill set to provide legal protection to thousands of IDPs (27 June 2012)
On June 13th, the Honorable Ekwe Ethuro, MP, presented the Internally Displaced Persons Bill 2012, to parliament. Once implemented, it will ensure legal protection for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who have been displaced in Kenya due to violence, disaster or development projects.
"In the past, operations to help people who have been displaced have been done without any legal direction," said Ehuro during an interview with IRIN news. "This law will ensure that any person dealing with an internally displaced person must do so within the confines of the law."
The full implementation of the Bill will require the adoption of a national policy on IDPs which has been under consideration by the Kenyan government since 2010. Once these two instruments are in place, Kenya will be in a position to join the Kampala Convention, the first regional legally binding legal instrument on IDP protection.
Kenya: 2,000 homes destroyed by flash floods (3 May 2012)
Since early April, torrential rain and floods across various parts of Kenya have displaced more than 2,000 households and killed at least 36 people, according to a recent assessment conducted by the government with the Kenya Red Cross Society and partners. To date, the floods continue to submerge homes, and destroy livestock and crops as thousands are forced to flee.
As of April 27th, the latest area affected is Kisumu County and its outskirts, where heavy rains over three days have led to the River Awach bursting its banks. In Taita Taveta County, IDPs who lost their homes and livelihoods are now in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.
While there is an urgent need for food, non-food items, shelter, water and sanitation, soon recovery and reconstruction of homes and livelihoods will be equally important for displaced families to restart their lives. The impact of annual rains in Kenya has also highlighted a need for greater attention to preparedness and prevention.
Kenya: Communal violence in the north leads to displacement (13 January 2012)
Inter-ethnic violence over water and pasture resources in northern Kenya has led to loss of life and displacement. Violence in Moyale near the Ethiopian border between the Borana and Gabra herding communities has claimed the lives of 46 people and displaced over 6,600, according to a local leader. The violence was reportedly triggered by attempts by both communities, including tribesmen from across the border, to seize grazing land. According to the Daily Nation of Kenya, Government offices and businesses could not open for fear of looting, and the education of some 3,000 children was affected as 17 schools remained closed.
Violence in pastoral areas in 2011 left more than 350 people dead, compared to 179 in 2010, highlighting the impact of the 2011 drought in increasing resource-based conflicts. The National Cohesion and Integration Commission, which the government set up following the post-election crisis of 2008, also linked the ethnic violence to the general election due in 2012. Localised tensions have increased as the move towards devolved county governments has intensified competition for local power and resources.
Conflict and violence are on the rise in Kenya. In 2012 more than 118,000 people are estimated to have been newly displaced as a result of inter-communal and resource-based violence, linked to a combination of ethnic, political and economic factors. Tens of thousands more have been displaced as a result of natural disasters and development projects.
Although a large number of Kenyans displaced during the post-election violence of 2007 and 2008 are still struggling to find durable solutions, the level of service provision and donor attention is rapidly declining. Many assume that the emergency has ended, however there are still humanitarian needs for the internally displaced people (IDPs). There is a clear gap between short-term emergencymeasures and the comprehensive medium and long-term initiatives that IDPs need to end their displacement and restart their lives.
Current displacements, mainly affecting pastoralists in arid and semi-arid areas, also need to be acknowledged as significant needs and protection concerns remain. The lack of reliable data on IDPs and their location, including those who have returned to their places of origin or resettled elsewhere, remains a major challenge. (...)
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28 Decemeber 2012
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Previous Profile updates
- Key Documents
- The Prevention, Protection and Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons and Affected Communities Act, 2012, Government of Kenya, 4 February 2013
- Land Act (No 6 of 2012), National Council for Law Reporting, 19 October 2012
- Human Rights Committee - Concluding observations on Kenya, UN Human Rights Committee (CCPR), 27 July 2012
- Mid-Year Review of the 2012+ Kenya Emergency Humanitarian Response Plan, UN OCHA, 24 July 2012
- Report of the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Resettlement of the Internally Displaced Persons in Kenya, Republic of Kenya, 18 April 2012
- Taskforce Progress Report on Resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and forest evictees, Government of Kenya, 19 March 2012
- Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons - Mission to Kenya, OHCHR, 6 February 2012
- Constitution of Kenya, 2010, National Council for Law Reporting, 10 October 2010
- UNDP Programme Document for Kenya (2009-2013), UNDP, 4 March 2009
- Waki Report on post-election violence, Daily Nation (Kenya), 16 October 2008
- Kenya Vision 2030: First Medium Term Plan (2008-2012), Government of Kenya, 2 April 2008
- Report of the National Accord Implementation Committee on National Reconciliation and Emergency Social Economic Recovery Strategy (March 2008), Government of Kenya, March 2008