United Nations officials warned today that the humanitarian situation in Kenya, where post-election violence has uprooted hundreds of thousands of people, is getting worse with water, sanitation and shelter among the most pressing needs.
The UN estimates that some 250,000 Kenyans have been displaced and 350 reportedly killed by the violence which erupted after President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner in the recent election.
The UN Country Team in Kenya is working with the Kenya Red Cross Society and a number of national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as faith-based groups, to provide immediate humanitarian assistance.
As tensions in the capital and elsewhere have eased, UN agencies and their partners have stepped up their efforts to deliver much-needed supplies, including food, water, mosquito nets, blankets, shelter material and medicine, to those in need.
At the same time, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned today that the crisis is getting worse, based on an inter-agency assessment carried out on Sunday in the most-affected areas.
“Although the overall security situation in the country may have improved over the past couple of days, the humanitarian crisis is deepening,” OCHA’s Jens Laerke told reporters in Nairobi.
According to OCHA, people are still on the move in and around Eldoret and Kericho, and several convoys with internally displaced persons (IDPs) were seen leaving Eldoret yesterday and heading for Nakuru.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is working with its partners to provide emergency water and sanitation to some 22,000 internally displaced persons in two camps located in Eldoret.
“In both camps, shelter, water and sanitation and protection are the most pressing needs,” said UNICEF’s Pamela Sittoni. “People are sleeping in the open and the toilets are inadequate.”
She also highlighted the plight of women and children who are “bearing the brunt of the violence,” noting that a number of children have been separated from their families during the events of recent days, as well as reports of sexual violence.
Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said a convoy of trucks carrying supplies for displaced people in the Northern Rift Valley left Nairobi today, and more of the agency’s food left the town of Eldoret for thousands of desperately hungry people in the western town of Kisumu.
Twenty trucks loaded with 670 metric tons of food – enough to feed at least 70,000 people for two weeks – arrived in Nairobi from the port of Mombasa on Sunday. Nine of the trucks unloaded their food in Nairobi and the remaining 11 headed on to Eldoret today.
In addition to those displaced within the country, over 3,000 Kenyans have crossed over into neighbouring Uganda, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) which is assisting the Ugandan Government and Uganda Red Cross in providing assistance.
An emergency response team that arrived from the agency’s headquarters in Geneva will be providing items such as blankets, plastic sheets and kitchen sets to the Kenya Red Cross to distribute to the displaced in the Rift Valley and in other areas around Nairobi.