This policy brief explores the importance of land issues in forced displacement in Kenya, drawing out their implications for current humanitarian and early recovery interventions in the wake of the violence and displacement that followed the 2007 elections. Key messages nclude:
current post-election displacement in Kenya is not a new phenomenon but a recurring trend linked to unresolved land grievances, in a context of poor governance and socio-economic insecurity. This is of concern to humanitarians as the failure to understand the dynamics involved and the implications for recovery can exacerbate tensions and jeopardise attempts to resolve the crisis
humanitarians need to engage with land specialists to ensure that their programming not only avoids exacerbating tensions, but is also consistent with efforts to address the structural causes of conflict
return, relocation and local integration processes should not be promoted as durable solutions in the absence of serious attempts to resolve land-related grievances. If durable solutions are to be found, programmes must take account of those who were forced to move in earlier waves of displacement
the government’s urgency in encouraging internally displaced persons (IDPs) to return despite continued political uncertainty and insecurity raises clear protection concerns. This includes both physical security and wider issues to do with rights, community reconciliation and sustainable access to the means of subsistence
in the absence of political progress and stability, urbanisation is likely to accelerate as displaced people seek alternative livelihoods
The bried concludes that well-informed advocacy, which incorporates land tenure expertise, is required to encourage the government to meet its obligations to ensure that the conditions for return are in place. If such processes are to represent a truly durable solution, it argues that they must be accompanied by an acknowledgement of historical grievances and the need for reconciliation processes. In the absence of such change, it is imperative that the humanitarian community monitors the fate of IDPs after their return, to ensure that their rights are protected and their needs met.
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