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MPs issue ultimatum on Mau settlers

BUSIA
By | November 19th 2009

By Standard Team

A humanitarian crisis of "monumental proportions" is unfolding in Kuresoi following eviction of settlers from Mau Forest.

At a Press conference in Nairobi on Wednesday, a section of Rift Valley MPs claimed the Government had abandoned the evicted.

Cherangany MP Joshua Kuttuny said local MPs would return the evicted to the forest in eleven days if they are not resettled elsewhere.

The MPs denied reports in a section of the Media that the evictees had been going home at night.

Assistant Justice Minister William Cheptumo appealed for humanitarian assistance and said Prime Minister Raila Odinga and former Rift Valley PC Hassan Noor Hassan were largely responsible for evictees’ suffering.

The MPs said those evicted lived in squalid conditions, freezing in rain and without food or shelter at Kurbanyat, Kipkongor, Terta, Tiriita and Kapkigoron camps in Kuresoi.

Kuresoi MP Zakayo Cheruiyot said 8,464 children were displaced.

"At the very least the government should have allowed them to harvest their crops," said Ruto.

Margaret Kamar of Eldoret South said the Government betrayed Mau people in the reafforestation efforts.

She said the eviction contravenes a resolution of Parliament to uphold their human rights.

Ruto said there was a stampede at Terta camp when GSU, forest guards and administration police attacked it leading to injuries.

Other MPs present were Moses Lessonet (Eldama Ravine), Lucas Chepkitony (Keiyo North), Boaz Kaino (Marakwet East).

Noble efforts

But Lands Minister James Orengo, speaking at a different Nairobi hotel, urged the politicians to stop politicising the evictions.

The minister said efforts to conserve the water catchment were noble and not meant to victimise any community.

Mr Orengo said the evictions must, however, be done in a humane way.

"They want to behave like a man who robs a bank and pleads with the magistrate to allow him share the loot in exchange for forgiveness," he said.

And Rift Valley Knut Secretariat has asked the Government to set up an immediate humanitarian fund to rescue thousands of pupils affected.

The union’s Provincial Council Secretary Sammy Bor asked Special Programmes Minister Naomi Shaban to arrange contingency supplies for victims to avert crises.

Mr Bor said thousands of pupils would be affected by the evictions, and that many across the region risked dropping out of school.

"We have focussed so much on the political dimensions of eviction while ignoring the damage wreaked on the education system," he said.

David Ochami, Mutinda Mwanzia and Dedan Okanga

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