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Displaced Kenyans Reluctant To Return Home - UN

Displaced Kenyans reluctant to return home, UN reports

13 March 2008 - Many of the tens of thousands of Kenyans driven from their homes by the violence that has gripped the east African country following last December's contested elections are reluctant to return to their homes, the United Nations reports.

At several settlements in Eldoret in western Kenya, which was recently visited by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), internally displaced persons (IDPs) expressed their disinclination to leave their camps until the Government provided solid assurances regarding security and a system were put in place to restore their property.

Late last month, a power-sharing pact was signed between the Party of National Unity and the opposition Orange Democratic Movement. Some 1,000 people were killed and more than 300,000 others forced to flee after the disputed elections in which President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner over opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Humanitarian agencies on the ground have reached consensus that regardless of what happens on the political or humanitarian sphere, Kenya faces a food security crisis that could potentially last until next year as a result of the recent violence combined with the drought that has impacted much of the country.

The UN assessed that the many of the displaced would prefer to wait for further in national reconciliation talks before risking returning home, which means that many farmers might not cultivate their fields before the rainy season kicks off in mid-March.

Earlier this month, 134 people - many having taken part in or being victims of post-election violence in Nairobi's slums - participating in a training programme sponsored by the UN and the Government completed a course in conflict resolution, peace building and reconciliation.

A similar scheme, which seeks to promote further national reconciliation and bolster slum protection, is being considered for western Kenya and the Rift Valley.

ENDS

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