Fresh political tensions raise concerns in Kenya's IDP camps

Internally displaced people (IDPs) are worried that a tenuous peace deal may falter, worsening their chances of returning home soon.

Eliza Barclay
Displaced: Kenyans fill water buckets at a camp in Nakuru for people forced from their homes in ethnic clashes earlier this year.

Though this camp of 16,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) in Kenya's Rift Valley remains calm, political tensions this week have heightened concerns that Kenya's tenuous peace agreement may soon falter.

According to The Standard, a Kenyan daily newspaper, extra police officers were deployed Thursday to guard displaced people living in camps around the country.

Kenya's capital, Nairobi, was tense this week as young men put up barricades and burned tires inciting riot police to dispense tear gas in Kibera, a slum of 1.2 million residents. The rioters' goal was to put pressure on the government to address concerns from Prime Minister Raila Odinga's opposition party.

Mr. Odinga suspended talks with President Mwai Kibaki on Tuesday, saying Mr. Kibaki must dissolve the current Cabinet and distribute posts equally between the two parties.

Meanwhile, IDPs here – who were forced to flee ethnic clashes that killed more than 1,200 after the country's disputed Dec. 27 elections – remain apprehensive about returning home.

"I feel pain when someone tells me to go home," says Peter, an IDP who has lived here for three months and fears he will be attacked by rival ethnic groups if he returns.

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