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The history of humanity is made up of contracts and ambiguities that are dictated by the objective circumstances of people. Political or tribal conflict situations generate both international reprobation and a resolve to meet the basic needs of the people.

Having been, in a recent and remote past, the most hit of all five continents by waves of people displacement, Europe was able to set up consistent institutional relief mechanisms through the establishment of the High Commission for Refugees in 1943 and the adoption of the Convention on refugees in 1951.[1]

In contrast with Africa that has been hit by catastrophes normally related to war which is usually sparked by leaders who are dictatorial and who want to remain in power, such leaders find it easy for them  to remain in power by rigging elections and more commonly they place members of their ethnic communities into Administrative positions which makes it easy for such leaders to influence major decisions in government and also makes it easy for them to rig elections at such desperate times, the military or certain rebels groups move in oust such leaders through a coup.

It is notable that this does not come easy as the head of state at that also responds and when that happens blood is shed and citizens lose their homes, livelihood, investments and in the worse of all they lose their lives. In the midst of this commotion mass movement is a common thing, as they all flee eminent danger.

The world is still experiencing waves of refugees or internally displaced people (IDPs), with their accompanying frustrations of all sorts inflicted to these peoples.


UNHCR describes internally displaced persons (IDPs) as “probably the largest group of vulnerable people in the world”.[2]



Although it is nearly impossible to estimate the global number of urban IDPs, the figures that do exist would put the total at nearly four million.[3] Yet this group remains silent, largely ignored, and without hope for durable solutions to their plight.

The phenomenon of internal displacement is a historic issue. While Displacements have taken the manifestations captured above from the Colonial to post-independence eras, it is the politically instigated violence which has taken a centre stage from 1991 to 2008. Reports by the KHRC indicates that the 1991-1997 election related clashes displaced more than 600,000 people in the Coast, Rift Valley, Nyanza and Western provinces.[4]

However, despite displacement being a constant occurrence in Kenya since independence, there has not been a government policy on how displacement was to be tackled or how the displaced could be restored to their normal life. For long there has also lacked a proper mechanism to tackle IDP’s problems as a result, IDP’s continue to suffer hardships related to displacement and the discrimination that displacement brings. The majority of IDPs resulting from the numerous displacements in Kenya have not been resettled and their lives restored. The lack of a mechanism to ensure a durable solution to protect the IDPs and to restore their lives ensuring that they do not suffer any discrimination has been at the root of the failure by the government to fully resettle victims of the many cycles of displacement in Kenya since independence.

Currently, IDPs and problems of displacement are administered from the Ministry of Special Programs, which did not have an original mandate. Even with the Ministry of Special Programs IDPs were handled as part of disaster management (not a displacement issue). The IDP policy provides for an Inter-Ministerial Committee that will incorporate different stakeholders.[5]

The Dissertation is a critical analysis of two related but different areas of international concern which transcend both humanitarian and human rights law. Emphasis is placed on the evaluation of the situation in Kenya in view of its position in Africa. Considering the relative resemblance of the cause and effects of IDPs while at the same time making comparison to  refugees in most states, the anticipated solutions to the problem should be applicable in other parts of Africa but I will narrow it down to present Kenya as my focal point and  the strike the question as to why are International standards not


being applied to IDPs in Kenya while we have Refugees leaving in the same country and  are covered by International Law as regards protection of basic amenities.

The study will also evaluate what constructive meaning should be placed on state sovereignty and how it impacts on the attitude towards internally displaced persons (IDPs), the provision of humanitarian assistance and the ultimate protection offered. The restrictive nature of ‘state consent’ on matters concerning IDPs due to their special status in international law has also been appraised.

It will also review the importance of the existing international law that applies in cases of internal displacement, which should be emphasized and to which states must adhere. Contemporary international law, though not directly protecting IDPs, has provision of humanitarian assistance.

There are several parts in this dissertation. Part 1, deals with the general introduction into the study giving the reasons as to why it should be researched on it also aims at giving a general introduction on the IDPs by defining them and introducing the problems that affect them. Part 2 deals with refugee protection the different kinds  of protection accorded to them under international law and the reasons why it is necessary to carry out a contra distinction on them whereas the study is concerned with majorly IDPs who are our main concern. Part 3 of the study narrows down to the IDP question how they are viewed under international law the protection accorded to them under international law if any and the instruments that cover them both nationally and in the international sphere. Part 4 majorly deals with the forms of discrimination that IDPs face the preferential treatment that is accorded to the refugees as opposed to that given to the IDPs. Part 5 looks at the legal framework that deals with IDPs the scope of it and the framework in place together with the weaknesses of the policies of the framework. Part 5 looks at the settlement of IDPs the conflicts that  IDPs face in it, causes, cures and prospects while at the same time looking at whether integration would work better as compared to National cohesion. Part 7 concludes the study and gives the study a way forward.


[1] This article is a summary of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre(IDMC) publication Internal Displacement: Global Overview of Trends and Developments in 2008, IDMC, Geneva, April 2009.

[2] UNHCR, (2007). Internally Displaced Persons: Questions and Answers. (UNHCR: Geneva ), p. 4. Available at <hpttp://>









[3] Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, (2007). Addressing Urban Displacement- A Project Description.

(IDMC, Norwegian Refugee Council: Geneva), p. 2

[4] KHRC, 1998 (a). op cit, KHRC; 1998 (b), op cit

[5] This mandate came after 2007 post election violence

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