UN appeals for $42 million to help 500,000 crisis-affected Kenyans

UN appeals for $42 million to help 500,000 crisis-affected Kenyans

In the aftermath of the violence that tore through Kenya following last month’s elections, the United Nations has asked for $42 million to provide some 500,000 people with food, water, shelter and other priority needs over the next six months.

The Kenya Emergency Humanitarian Response Plan 2008, presented today, includes some 63 projects to be carried out in the coming months to provide key services and supplies which have been identified by 22 aid partners, among them the UN and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), with the participation of the Kenyan Government.

The single largest part of the funds requested is $10 million for food aid, followed by emergency shelter, early-recovery projects and protection of civilians, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs said at the launch of the appeal in New York.

“This is to a large extent a protection-of-civilians crisis,” said John Holmes, who is also UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, adding that “what we’re talking about here is not physical protection.”

Mr. Holmes said protection issues include treating those who have been traumatized by the violence, particularly children, and gaining an accurate picture of the displaced.

Also included are documenting, treating the victims of and preventing gender-based violence, he added, noting that sexual violence was a “very unfortunate but prominent feature” of what has happened in the aftermath of the elections.

Nearly 600 people have been killed and some 255,000 displaced during the crisis which began after President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner over opposition leader Raila Odinga in the country’s recent polls. Another 6,100 Kenyans have fled to neighbouring Uganda.

“What we want is a return to normality, a political solution as soon as possible, and also every effort by all leaders to prevent violence, to extend protection to civilians and to stop any kind of downward spiral into ethnic violence,” Mr. Holmes said.

The Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) estimates that up to 500,000 people may be affected by the post-electoral violence, in which the western provinces of Rift Valley, Nyanza and Western, as well as the slum areas of the capital, Nairobi, have been impacted the most.

The crisis continues today, with the start of three days of opposition rallies. The UN Country Team reports that the capital Nairobi, the western towns of Kisumu and Eldoret and towns along the Kenyan coast, including Mombasa, are all now theatres of clashes between security forces and youth gangs, UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters.

Since the crisis broke out, UN agencies having been assisting those affected, along with the Kenya Red Cross Society, national and international NGOs and faith-based groups.

Assistance from the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has so far reached almost 228,000 people, while the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has distributed family kits and continues to monitor the protection needs of the displaced. In addition, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has provided medical, nutrition, water and sanitation and other supplies amounting to more than $650,000.

Last week, the UN authorized $7 million from its Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to support immediate relief activities included in the Kenya Response Plan. As a result, the current funding requirements stand at $34.8 million.

The disbursement is the first in 2008 from the Fund, which has committed over $619 million to some 751 projects in 60 countries since it was established in March 2006.