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Camp closures address fraud, not IDP welfare

By | October 5th 2009

A presidential directive to "close IDP camps in two weeks" has fired up debate largely because it is unclear what it was meant to achieve.

The closure of camps does not resolve the problem of internally displaced people. Rather, it looks to address the problems of fraud and fake post-election IDPs. With reports of fraudulent claims by non-existent IDPs or exclusion of genuine refugees from compensation lists, this is necessary.

First, the Government recognises one IDP camp (at the Eldoret showground) with some 1,000 people displaced in post-election violence. It also has records for a few thousand more in 18 ‘transit’ camps, mostly in Wareng District. It is these 6,806 people who are to be resettled. The number is down from the 40,000 or so that were in ‘transit sites’ in April. It also does not include so-called ‘integrated’ IDPs, refugees who were taken in by family or friends.

Despite the continued spending of taxpayer funds on resettlement efforts, the number of IDP claims is not subsiding. Aid agency and Government reports had the IDP population at 40-60,000 in January. Today, we hear claims of 80,000 from some NGOs.

With the camps still open, the fake IDP problem will continue to fuel fraud and delay measures to help other categories of refugees. It’s time to wean the nation off the compensation teat, investigate fraud allegations and move on to helping intergrated IDPs.

That done, the Government is still going to have the problem of people displaced by other factors (rustling, drought) to solve.

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