UN expert warns Kenya to avoid new internal displacement

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Chaloka Beyani

With just a week before Kenyans go to the polls, a UN human rights expert has called on the Kenyan Government and the international community to significantly scale up efforts to prevent internal displacement in preparation for the March 4th elections.

Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Chaloka Beyani, says "Instances of localized violence likely to result in the arbitrary displacement of persons in Kenya have steadily increased in the run up to the elections, although intervention by Government has helped to improve the situation".

Mr. Beyani recalled that internal displacement in the country has historically followed each election cycle since 1991/1992.

He urged "the Kenyan authorities this time around to strengthen the measures being led by national disaster and crisis management to prevent displacement, together with its national and international partners, and to intensify emergency preparedness and coordination efforts to that end".

This year's elections are the first under the new 2010 Constitution, which introduced major political reforms after the 2007/2008 post-election violence.

At the time, lack of preparedness during the post-election violence contributed to the country's largest internal displacement crisis, with 600,000 Kenyans displaced in precarious and adverse living conditions.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’15′

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