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Increasing violence on Kenyan streets as protests enter third day - UN

Increasing violence on Kenyan streets as protests enter third day - UN

Workers unload food aid flown to Nairobi by UN agency
The United Nations reported more violence today in Kenya where opposition supporters took to the streets for a third day to protest last month�s disputed elections.

Nearly 600 people have been killed and some 255,000 displaced in the violence that erupted in the country a few weeks ago, after Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner over opposition leader Raila Odinga in the December polls.

Today, the third and final day of nationwide protest rallies, there has been a �serious escalation of the violence between police and opposition supporters,� UN spokesperson Michele Montas said at a press briefing in New York, adding that a dozen people are reported to have been killed.

According to the UN Country Team, Kenyan police killed a protester in the port of Mombasa. They also fired live bullets in Nairobi�s Kibera slum and tear gas at Muslim protesters in both Nairobi and Mombasa who emerged onto the streets after Friday prayers.

Meanwhile, insecurity has hampered the delivery of aid by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in the Northern Rift Valley, Kisumu, Western Kenya and slums of Nairobi.

Ms. Montas noted that the agency, however, plans to airlift emergency food supplies to parts of Nyanza and western provinces where travel by road is not advised at this time. Food distribution and other humanitarian aid have made their way unhindered to camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in neighbouring Uganda, where some 6,000 Kenyans have fled.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) yesterday flew in tonnes of humanitarian supplies from its stockpiles in Dubai to Nairobi for distribution to Kenyans displaced in the recent unrest, including plastic sheeting, mosquito nets and generators.

In addition, trucks loaded with family kits had been expected to depart the capital Nairobi for Eldoret and Nakuru. However, UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler told reporters in Geneva that both operations were cancelled as a result of the demonstrations in Nairobi.

UNHCR reports that the majority of the Kenyan refugees in Uganda are being hosted by local communities, while a few thousand are staying in schools in Malaba and in Busia. A transit centre in Mulanda, 35 kilometres from the border, is currently being set up.

�Any new arrivals will be transferred there from the border by UNHCR as soon as adequate water and sanitation facilities are established,� Mr. Spindler said.

To address the special needs of women, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is providing urgently needed medical equipment and supplies to thousands of the displaced in Nairobi and other affected areas, including Nakuru, Eldoret, Kisumu and Mombasa.

The agency points out that thousands of pregnant women are beyond the reach of health facilities. To assist them, UNFPA is providing clean delivery kits, including plastic sheeting to lay on the ground, soap for washing hands before assisting delivery, a clean razor blade and string to cut and tie the umbilical cord, and a blanket to protect the newly born babies from hypothermia.

The supplies have been delivered to the Kenya Red Cross for redistribution in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the Nairobi Women�s Hospital and other local organizations.

Of particular concern to UNFPA are reports of increased sexual violence in the settlements where displaced are staying. �At least one hospital in the affected areas has reported that the number of rapes, especially gang rapes, has increased significantly over the past three weeks,� the agency said in a news release.

The Fund is providing medicine and equipment to help treat these cases of violence, including post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to prevent HIV infection and medications to treat gonorrhoea, syphilis and chlamydia.

The UN, in cooperation with the Kenyan Government, has launched an appeal for $42 million to supply food, water, shelter and other priority needs to some 500,000 people over the next six months in the wake of the current crisis.