Three years after terror attacks forced Lamu residents to flee to safety in camps, many IDPs have refused to return home.
The IDPs are demanding compensation for time spent at the camps and the destruction to their homes, farms and property in their absence.
Residents of Pandanguo, Jima, Poromoko, Kakathe, Maleli and Nyongoro village fled to Katsaka Kairu IDP camp after a series of al Shabaab raids that left a number of people dead. Houses were torched.
Hundreds of others entered the camp after they were asked to vacate their villages to allow security officers pursue the militants. Al Shabaab were hiding inside the Boni Forest.
The Katsaka Kairu IDP camp in Witu, Lamu West, has 400 IDPs. They appear to be resigned to making permanent residence at the camp.
They have ignored assurances of security back in their villages.
In October 2017, the national government ordered the more than 2,000 IDPs to go back home, assuring them of safety.
The majority left but a good number, especially those from Nyongoro and Maleli, have refused to leave. They say their villages are unsafe.
To prove the return home order was serious, the government cut off aid to the IDPs. They now fend for themselves. With no lands of their own to till, the IDPs farm lands close to the camp.
Speaking on Friday, Monicah Mwihaki, a mother of six, said they had no plans to return home. They feel safer in the camps, she said.
Mwihaki said some IDPs go back to their villages to tend to their farms and return to the camp in the evening.“That’s the cycle. We can never go to live in those villages again. We go and plant crops and take care of our animals and farms, then return here in the evening,” Mwihaki said.
Bonface Karisa said they have agreed to never leave the camp until they are compensated by the government.
He said many lost property, which they have been unable to replace.
“We had crops on farms that were destroyed. Our homes were looted and others torched. If we have to start over, the government must pay us to do so, otherwise we won’t leave,” Karisa said. They say they want to be compensated just like the post-election violence victims.
“Ours is a dire situation because it’s terrorism. No IDP is superior to the other,” Kungu Joseph said.