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Cablegate: Kenya Idp Return Operation Overview

VZCZCXYZ0011
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHNR #1657/01 1891431
ZNR UUUUU ZZH (CCY PARA AD00B13D2D/MSI1155 508)
R 071431Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6335
INFO RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 7281
RUEHSUN/USMISSION USUN ROME IT
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 4471
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CJTF HOA
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 2064

UNCLAS NAIROBI 001657

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (PARA MARKING, PARA 22, SECTION 04)

AIDAC

STATE PLS PASS TO USAID
USAID/DCHA FOR MHESS, GGOTTLIEB
DCHA/OFDA FOR KLUU, ACONVERY, KCHANNELL, MSHIRLEY
DCHA/FFP FOR JBORNS, JDWORKEN, SANTHONY, CMUTAMBA
AFR/EA FOR BDUNFORD
STATE FOR AF/E, AF/F AND PRM
USUN FOR FSHANKS
BRUSSELS FOR PBROWN
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH
USMISSION UN ROME FOR RNEWBERG

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PHUM PREL KE
SUBJECT: KENYA IDP RETURN OPERATION OVERVIEW

REFS: A) NAIROBI 1213
B) NAIROBI 1299
C) NAIROBI 1333
D) NAIROBI 1509

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (U) The pace of internally displaced person (IDP) returns from
host communities and formal camps has slowed significantly following
an initial surge of predominately agricultural IDP returns to
pre-crisis areas. The Government of Kenya (GOK) stated during the
month of June that all formal IDP camps must close as of the end of
June, yet nearly 69,000 individuals remain in more than 100 camps as
of July 1. In addition, the recent proliferation of transit sites
near pre-crisis homes has complicated humanitarian service
delivery.

2. (U) The GOK policy on IDP returns remains unclear to the
international community, and aid agencies working in affected areas
have noted a lack of coordination, even among GOK district
commissioners (DCs), regarding camp closures. USAID Office of U.S.
Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) humanitarian advisors
continue to monitor the situation and advocate for increased
coordination among GOK representatives and between the GOK and the
international humanitarian community.

3. (U) We have weighed in strongly with the Kenyan government
against any forced returns and/or premature closing of camps. See
paragraph 21 for the text of the Ambassador's letter to Prime
Minister Odinga and Minster of Special Programs Shaban. End
Summary.

----------
BACKGROUND
----------

4. (U) According to the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS), the number
of IDPs residing in official camps decreased from 158,891 to 68,519
individuals between May 2 and July 1, and the number of camps
declined from 157 to 101. However, as of July 1, more than 109,000
of the returning IDPs had settled in 172 transit sites near their
pre-crisis homes as a result of security concerns and a lack of
resources at home sites, according to the Office of the U.N. High
Commissioner for Refugees. [Note: Numbers and population figures
for transit sites vary significantly, due to the lack of
humanitarian access to and coordinated registration in these sites.
End note.]

--------------------------------------------
REASONS FOR RETURNS AND RELUCTANCE TO RETURN
--------------------------------------------

5. (SBU) While the June 30 deadline for Rudi Nyumbani, or Operation
Return Home, has passed, humanitarian agencies agree that the GOK
continues to desire the closure of official camps, particularly
large camps in Naivasha and Nakuru districts. The GOK is pressing
for these camps to close for several reasons. First, the GOK
believes that the camps contain criminal elements posing as IDPs.
Second, the GOK sees the urban camps as becoming increasingly
politicized, with IDPs demanding more compensation and using the
media spotlight to place pressure on the GOK. Third, the GOK
desires IDPs to return to their livelihoods, particularly those
individuals who the GOK believes are in the camps to take advantage
of free services. Fourth, the GOK wants to use the land that the
camps are currently utilizing as it was originally intended (e.g.
the Agricultural Society of Kenya land in Nakuru for the upcoming
agricultural show in July).

6. (U) GOK promises to IDPs, whether realistic or not, have led
IDPs to leave official camps. Promises vary from one minister's

promise that the GOK will provide a three-bedroom house for every
IDP family, to the more attainable package of KSH 10,000, or
approximately
USD 150, a tent, and two blankets for remaining IDPs to return to
pre-crisis homes.

7. (U) The return operation to date has been largely voluntary,
with predominantly agricultural IDPs returning to farming in
pre-crisis areas or from transit sites nearby. These farmers, many
of whom were anxious to begin planting crops during the appropriate
planting season, either have returned spontaneously without GOK
assistance or have received GOK assistance packages before returning
to pre-crisis areas.

8. (SBU) However, USAID/OFDA staff have received reports of strong
GOK pressure and intimidation employed to encourage IDPs to return
to pre-crisis areas in some locations, including Kitale and
Endebess, Trans Nzoia District (REFTEL B). USAID/OFDA has not
received further reports of direct intimidation of IDPs but note
that camp closure deadlines, as well as offers of cash, can coerce
IDPs who have no other place to go out of camps and into more
marginal living situations.

9. (U) IDPs who are reluctant to return are predominately business
people, landless individuals, laborers, and renters, who either have
no place to go or fear insecurity in re-establishing businesses and
homes in pre-crisis areas. For other IDPs, official camps are more
comfortable than their pre-crisis homes. Some IDPs are waiting for
GOK compensation for their losses during the post-election
violence.

--------------------------------------------- --
GROWING TRANSIT CAMPS AN UNSUSTAINABLE SOLUTION
--------------------------------------------- --

10. (U) According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs, (OCHA), many IDPs leaving official camps are
settling in transit sites, rather than returning directly to
pre-crisis homes. The majority of transit sites, which range in
size from eight families to 9,000 individuals, lack a sustained
humanitarian presence, and some lack basic services. The numerous
transit sites are difficult, economically and logistically, to
support. The GOK has provided food rations and other forms of
assistance for IDPs in most transit sites, but systematic service
provision is not in place and the GOK has not articulated a policy
or strategy for dealing with them at any level.

11. (U) The duration of these sites remains unclear, and some could
form into permanent villages. Since the transit sites are often
located on private land, the creation of new villages on the sites
could present future legal and humanitarian challenges.

-------------------------------------------
LACK OF COORDINATION HAMPERS RETURN PROCESS
-------------------------------------------

12. (U) The abrupt nature of the GOK plan to close camps and return
individuals to pre-crisis homes, unattainable promises made by the
GOK to IDPs, and the lack of GOK coordination with the international
community led to inadequate preparation in some return areas and
significant concern regarding the sustainability of the return
process. The lack of GOK coordination with the humanitarian
community is exacerbated by parallel structures for the response,
including the U.N. Cluster system, sector-based meetings, and KRCS
efforts. With a lack of clear leadership on the part of the central
government, district and local officials interpret the GOK directive
to close camps in very different ways, leading to inconsistent
strategies for IDP returns.

13. (SBU) Several aid agencies believe the strong directives to
close camps come from senior officials in the Office of the
President, not associated with the Ministry of State for Special

Programs, which has the GOK lead for humanitarian provision
following the post-election violence. According to these
organizations, the Ministry of State for Special Programs is
implementing orders from others and is aware of the problems that
this plan has created.

14. (SBU) Whichever section of the GOK is determining and directing
the return project, it has not clearly communicated a comprehensive
message on the GOK plan to the humanitarian community or to the
provincial administration charged with implementing the camp
closures and return of IDPs.

15. (U) Field staff assessing camps in Naivasha and Nakuru
districts have reported that DCs change their messages about the
continuation or closure of camps daily, if not multiple times per
day. Since the decision to close or delay closing official camps is
so variable, it is increasingly difficult to determine the overall
GOK plan for returns and camp closures.

-------------------------------------
SUCCESS OF RETURNS VARIES BY LOCATION
-------------------------------------

16. (U) Since May 2, USAID/OFDA humanitarian advisors have been
conducting field assessments in affected areas, including Nakuru,
Trans Nzoia, Koibatek, Kwanza, and Uasin Gishu districts, to monitor
return operations and facilitate information sharing with
implementing partners and U.N. agencies. The advisors have reported
that return operations have had varying levels of organization and
success in different locations, as described in REFTEL D.

17. (U) In addition, the composition of each camp is different,
leading to differences in IDP response to camp closures. Aid
workers note that, in some cases, camp closure is an appropriate
step, given the resumption of camp residents' livelihoods in
pre-crisis areas. In other cases, most individuals currently
remaining in the official IDP camps are business people, landless
individuals, and IDPs with no place to return due to localized
tensions. Unfortunately, return operations and livelihoods programs
largely lack plans for the return of non-farming IDPs.

18. (U) During the week of June 23, local media reported that IDPs
in Kedong camp in Naivasha District were protesting the Kenya Red
Cross Society (KRCS) plan to cease services in the camp by June 30.
More than
80 percent of IDP families in Kedong camp work in flower farms and
have received stipends from their employers since the onset of the
crisis. KRCS and OCHA representatives noted that IDPs were
reluctant to let go of free services and that the GOK could have
closed Kedong camp several months ago, since the large majority of
the camp's residents had steady income. As of July 6, Kedong camp
is closed.

19. (SBU) The security situation in Nakuru remains tense after the
abduction of an IDP chairperson at the Nakuru Showground camp during
the weekend of June 20-22. In response to a demonstration to
protest the disappearance of the IDP chairperson, police allegedly
shot live bullets into the demonstrating IDPs, seriously injuring
two individuals, one of whom died one week later. The IDP
chairperson, who sustained burns and severe beatings and whose life
was threatened during his captivity, was later released. Although
local officials initially worked to keep the matter quiet and
accused KRCS of lying to incite the IDPs, the GOK investigated and
eventually transferred several district officials, including the DC.
During the week of June 23, the GOK announced plans to close the
camp and provide assistance packages, including KSH 10,000 per
family, to the IDPs.

20. (U) The level and success of reconciliation efforts also varies
by community. Churches, community leaders, and non-governmental
organizations are leading reconciliation efforts in certain areas,
while the GOK has done very little to promote peace building in

affected communities to date. The lack of community-based
reconciliation in some areas has produced isolated incidents of IDPs
forced to return to camps by community members in their pre-crisis
homes, as occurred in Eldoret during the week of June 16. During
the week of June 23, one IDP returnee was killed in Eldoret.
Humanitarian agencies note that the killing could magnify concerns
IDPs are expressing about remaining tensions in their pre-crisis
communities.

-----------------------------------
AMBASSADOR LETTER TO PRIME MINISTER
-----------------------------------

21. (U) On June 30, Ambassador Michael E. Ranneberger addressed a
letter to Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Minister of State for
Special Programs Naomi Shaban, urging the GOK to provide a clear,
phased approach for IDP returns from official and transit camps and
transparent coordination with the humanitarian community. Below is
the text of the letter from Ambassador Ranneberger addressed to
Prime Minister Odinga, dated June 30, 2008.

22. (U) Begin text. As you know, the United States has been at the
forefront to provide humanitarian assistance to internally displaced
persons and to assist in their orderly, voluntary return to their
homes. You'll recall receiving a copy of my May 15 letter to
Minister Shaban on this subject.

It has come to our attention through our extensive field assessments
and other sources that, in some area, Government of Kenya officials
are denying humanitarian services to populations in established
camps in order to compel them to leave. The efforts of some local
officials to accelerate the pace of returns by withholding food
distributions and services violates international norms and raises
grave concerns.

The United States urges the Government of Kenya to take the
following steps to address the issue:

1) There is an urgent need for a clearly outlined, phased approach
for the IDP returns from both the main and satellite camps. This
approach must meet the basic humanitarian needs of agricultural,
small business holder, and landless IDP populations, recognizing
that each of these distinct groups have special needs that must be
addressed to ensure their safe return to pre-crisis status.

2) All returns should be completely voluntary with no threats or
intimidation tactics employed by the district-level officials. We
have observed specific incidents in multiple locations whereby IDPs
are coerced or threatened directly or through the withholding of
food, water, and other relief services.

3) The Government should be willing to provide support, and allow
humanitarian agencies to continue providing support, at the main
camps, as well as satellite and transit camps.

4) It is critical that the GOK works closely with the donor, U.N.,
local and international non-governmental organizations, religious
and community groups in the planning of the phased return strategy.
It is currently not clear to the international community what the
official Government of Kenya policy, strategy, and timeline for
returns is. We understand that the timeline for closing main IDP
camps is currently left to the discretion of the relevant district
officials and has resulted in inconsistent strategies and mechanisms
for IDP returns.

5) Intensifying peace conciliation efforts is essential in order to
facilitate the return of people to their homes.

I look forward to our continued cooperation. End text.

----------
CONCLUSION

----------

23. (U) While the GOK is beginning to deliver on promises to
provide assistance packages for IDP families who return to
pre-crisis areas, the lack of full coordination with the
humanitarian community and the unchecked and ad-hoc proliferation of
transit sites are complicating monitoring and assistance efforts.
In addition, the lack of sustained and successful reconciliation
programs in some local communities jeopardizes the sustainability
of returns, as well as the potential of future returns from transit
sites.

24. (U) The U.S. Government will continue to monitor the situation
and urge the GOK to provide a clear, phased approach for IDP returns
without coercion or intimidation in order to address the needs of
all IDPs.

RANNEBERGER

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