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Kenya: UN rights expert proposes four-pronged strategy to face key challenges of internal displacement

NAIROBI (27 September 2011) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Chaloka Beyani urged the Kenyan authorities to adopt a comprehensive four-pronged strategy to address the key challenges still faced by internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the country on Tuesday. Kenya has experienced repeated waves of internal displacement in the past provoked by political violence and other causes.

“There is an urgent humanitarian need to address the dire living conditions and human rights of IDPs in Kenya, including persons displaced by the 2007/2008 post-election violence, and those displaced by natural disasters and environmental conservation projects such as the Mau Forest evictees,” stressed the independent expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council to report on the human rights situation of IDPs.

“Any strategy,” Mr. Beyani said at the end of his nine-day visit to Kenya, “must include the adoption of a policy and legislative framework, consistent with international and regional standards; together with capacity building, including in technical aspects such as registration, profiling, and assistance and protection program management; as well as prevention and mitigation of internal displacement; and durable solutions.”

The UN Special Rapporteur commended the commitment and important steps taken to date by the Government of Kenya to address the issue of IDPs, including the development of a draft IDP policy, and the return and resettlement of some IDPs affected by the post-election violence, which resulted in the displacement of an estimated 600,000 persons.

However, he called on the Kenyan authorities “to adopt the draft policy on protection and assistance to internally displaced persons, implementing legislation, and to ratify the Kampala Convention (African Union Convention on Protection and Assistance to IDPs) at the earliest opportunity.”

“In the course of this visit, I also found that the lack of accurate and efficient systems of registration and disaggregated data collection were key concerns directly affecting the assistance, protection and durable solutions for IDPs,” Mr. Beyani urged the authorities to join forces with the international community and civil society to collect more reliable information. “Particular attention should be paid to vulnerable groups, including children who may have resorted to living on the streets due to internal displacement.”

The Special Rapporteur emphasized the need for a broader approach to durable solutions which includes resettlement, return and local integration into host communities. “The choice of durable solutions by IDPs should be informed, voluntary and safe, and include the necessary assistance to rebuild their lives,” he said.

“As we look to the 2012 Presidential elections, it is also critical to step up efforts to implement durable solutions for IDPs, and to ensure that, together with affected communities, they are directly engaged in efforts to consolidate peace and reconciliation in Kenya,” the human rights expert stressed.

During his mission to Kenya, Mr. Beyani met with relevant Government Ministers, officials of provincial administrations, members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on IDPs, members of civil society, and UN officials. He also visited sites of displacement and resettlement, where he met with affected communities and local authorities. The Special Rapporteur will present his full report on the visit to Kenya to the Human Rights Council in March 2012.

Chaloka Beyani, a Zambian national and professor of international law at the London School of Economics, was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons by the Human Rights Council in September 2010.

Lear more about the mandate and work of the Special Rapporteur, visit: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/idp/index.htm

OHCHR Country Page – Kenya: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/KEIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact: Choice Okoro, Head of Communications and Advocacy, OCHA Eastern Africa, Nairobi, Kenya, Tel: +254 20 762 5317 / Mob: +254-732 500 020 / email: okoroc@un.org 

For more information on the mandate on internally displaced persons please contact Rosa da Costa (Tel: +41 22 917 9140 / email: rdacosta@ohchr.org) or write to idp@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, OHCHR Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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