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Kenya: UN continues providing assistance in wake of post-election violence

Kenya: UN continues providing assistance in wake of post-election violence

Some of the thousands of people fleeing post-electoral violence in Kenya
As the death toll from deadly wave of post-election violence in Kenya continues to climb, the United Nations is continuing its relief efforts ahead of three days of nationwide rallies next week called for by the opposition.

The Kenya Red Cross Society announced that it has revised the death toll up from the official number of 486 to 575, and said that this figure is expected to rise further as more bodies are discovered.

Violence erupted in the Eastern African nation late last month after President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner of the election, and opposition leader Raila Odinga has disputed the results.

The country's Government has identified urgent needs -- including security, food, water, sanitation facilities and medicine -- for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the capital Nairobi, the western region of the country and elsewhere.

An assessment team from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has just wrapped up a visit to IDP sites in the towns and regions of Eldoret, Nakuru, Molo and Rongai.

In Eldoret, it found that Family Kits, Dignity Kits with sanitary materials for women, and tents were needed, and said that psychosocial assistance and protection against gender-based violence is necessary.

The agency said that in Nakuru, the displaced living in religious sites are in need of medical assistance, food, blankets, mattresses, clothing and other basic necessities. It also voiced concern that the registration form identifies only children under five years of age and excludes some vulnerable groups such as the elderly, sick and disabled. UNHCR recommends that food and clothes be distributed with sensitivity towards people with special needs, such as some of the elderly who wait in line for hours to receive these items.

Meanwhile in Molo, some 2,000 IDPs lack shelter, water and sanitation. In Rongai, many those who have fled their homes are sleeping outside without blankets and shelter, and UNHCR warns that sanitation conditions are poor and require immediate attention as the nearby river is the area's only water source.

UNHCR has also found that there is an inadequate supply of Family Kits, tarpaulins, kitchen sets and blankets in Nairobi. The agency will continue to provide cooking utensils as part of a feeding programme led by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in the capital, and its delivery of these supplies to feeding schemes in Nairobi schools will resume on 14 January when schools re-open after a one-week delay caused by the post-election violence.

For its part, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) has identified the heath issues pertaining to the Kenyan crisis, such as emergency care for the wounded, essential health care for displaced populations, the need for health workers and medical supplies, surveillance of epidemic diseases, reproductive health, and water quality control.

WHO also said that at a regional level, it foresees the possibility of fuel shortages for humanitarian operations.