SECTIONS

State blamed for squatters' woes

By JOB WERU

Nyeri County

More than 20,000 squatters in Mt Kenya region have expressed outrage over alleged failure by the State to resettle them.

The squatters, who converged at Ruring’u Stadium, Nyeri, under the Kenya Squatters Social Forum, claimed the Treasury had failed to release Sh4 billion for the purchase of land to resettle them.

The group’s chairman George Koome said it was a disappointment the Government had bought land to resettle post-election violence victims and left 100,000 squatters languishing is squalid conditions.

"We urge the Government to buy land resettle us. We believe we can coexist with communities," said Mr Koome. At the same time, Koome appealed to the Government to enhance their security.

At the same time, Koome urged the Government to establish a fund on resettlement of squatters in Kenya.

"This is the only way to solve landlessness in Kenya, and facilitate realisation of the Millennium Development Goals and Vision 2030," said Koome.

The squatters were evicted from various State forests in the late 1980s, while others were colonial squatters, who were concentrated in various camps after colonialists declared a State of Emergency in 1952.

Central, he said, has more than 96 colonial villages, while most people living in them lost lands after colonialists displaced them.

Abject poverty

"We urge the Government and donor agencies to come to our aid and help us get land, since most of the squatters are living in absolute poverty," said Koome.

Ms Alice Gathoni from Kiawara area in Kieni said the squatters formed the Kenya Squatters Social Forum to "champion our rights, since we have been neglected for decades".

"I want my children to get somewhere they can live so that they can be sure of a better future," she said.