Thousands of houses and businesses were torched and about 600,000 people were forced from their homes in violence following Kenya’s disputed Dec. 27 elections. Clashes took an ethnic turn, and tribes with long-held land and political grievances began attacking each other.
After months of peace talks, Kibaki and former opposition leader Raila Odinga formed a unity government last month.
The government is anxious for displaced farmers to return home and plant crops during the rainy season, which already has started. Kenya faces a severe shortfall of the staple corn, just as world prices are skyrocketing, because many farmers’ homes and fields were burnt in the violence.
Last week the government launched an operation to help the displaced get home. But many interviewed by The Associated Press said they fear more attacks if they return. Others who left camps swiftly have returned, saying they found inadequate food, shelter and security.
At the Kitale camp, Carrier said many people were considering fleeing to neighboring Uganda.
“They are saying if we can’t be displaced in our own country, we will be refugees in Uganda,” he said.
More than 2,400 Kenyan refugees are living at a camp in northwestern Uganda and countless others are staying with friends or relatives there. Given a choice last week to move to a permanent refugee camp or return home, only 323 chose to return to Kenya.
Stephen Ndichu, a father of three, said he would never go back, because a mob had attacked him with machetes and left him for dead.
“I can never go back after what I’ve experienced. I saw someone skinned alive. There is too much hate,” he said. “These politicians have reached agreement before but it didn’t last. Why will it last this time?”
Associated Press Writer Katy Pownall contributed to this report from Mulanda, Uganda.
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