Lamu Al Shabaab IDPs claim they are denied food

Police distributing food in a file photo in May 2017. Thousands of IDPs still live at Katsakairo camp in Lamu due to threats posed by militants [Jane Mugambi |Standard]

Victims of militia violence in displaced persons camp in Lamu say the Government has refused to give them food until they leave.

Thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) still live at Katsakairo camp in the western part of Lamu due to threat posed by militants. They left briefly in November, but returned when militants attacked buses at Nyongoro and killed three policemen. A soldier and several police officers were wounded during the incident.

Last month, authorities ordered the IDPs to return to their homes claiming security had been restored, but most remain reluctant saying previous assurances were hollow leading to renewed slaughter by militants operating from forests and in remote villages.

According to John Kazungu, an IDP, food and other supplies which the national government had been providing since last June ceased after the October 26 presidential elections. He claimed the authorities now only feed IDPs who are back in their farms.

Nov 28 attack

“There were families that had gone back to their farms but after the November 28, 2017, attack that left three police officers dead, they got scared and came back to the camp,” he said.

The Standard established that families living at the camp housing about 2,000 people mainly fled their farms in Kakate, Maleli, Bora Moyo villages.

Fatma Ali from Kakate is among those who returned to the camp after the Nyongoro attack. Linda Boni director Joseph Kanyiri yesterday denied that some people had been sidelined in the supply of food.

He also said a new crisis was emerging because new invaders were occupying land vacated by those in IDP camps.

“The IDPs are not heeding to what the Government told them. When they moved, it was during election period so we had to be concerned over their safety but after October 28, we told them to go to their farms and they agreed but they still are in camps. They left land bare, giving herders a chance to occupy their land,” said Kanyiri.

Illegal occupation

He said the land ownership in Lamu that has caused many deaths should to be addressed urgently by the Lands ministry or a special task force which should advice on what to be done to end killings in Lamu and Tana River counties.

The director also said all people with idle land should develop it to avert invasions and illegal occupation.

“The barons in Mombasa and Nairobi whose land is idle should work on it because squatters have invaded it,” the director said and announced plans to build new police posts to improve security.

“The squatters must know that there is a procedure to be followed in order to have a police post,” Kanyiri said.