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No let-up in Kenya violence as political crisis continues, UN reports

No let-up in Kenya violence as political crisis continues, UN reports

UN staff load trucks with aid destined for  displaced people in Nairobi,  western Kenya
Deadly violence continues across parts of Kenya and the police presence remains heavy, the United Nations reports today, as the country reels from the crisis sparked by last month’s disputed election.

The bloodshed continued unabated over the weekend with 10 people hacked to death in ethnic violence, mainly in Kericho, Nakuru, Nairobi and Mombasa, and tens of houses torched, according to UN security officials on the ground.

They said the worst incident appeared to be in Kericho, where six people were killed and 50 houses burned last Saturday night. In Nairobi, at least three people were killed in the Huruma slums and 13 admitted to hospital with machete cuts on Sunday.

UN human rights chief Louise Arbour has voiced her deep concern about the continued violence and reports of grave human rights abuses in Kenya, and strongly denounced the numerous inter-ethnic killings.

“The killings have to be investigated expeditiously and impartially, and anyone found responsible for human rights abuses must be brought to justice,” Ms. Arbour stated. “There must not be, in any case, impunity for what has occurred in Kenya in the past few weeks.”

She called on Kenyan leaders to engage in open and constructive dialogue, including addressing the serious human rights violations that have occurred, noting that “any lasting peace in Kenya must be based on truth and accountability.”

Violence first erupted in the East African nation a few weeks ago, after Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner over opposition leader Raila Odinga in the December polls. Nearly 600 people have been killed and some 255,000 displaced in the ensuing crisis.

According to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), approximately 1,000 displaced persons arrive in Nakuru each day from violence-affected areas in the Northern Rift Valley.

Also in Nakuru, UNICEF says 18 of 134 schools remain closed, and some 240 teachers have failed to report to work. In Molo, the agency reports that 60 per cent of the region’s 151,000 children are absent from school due to insecurity and displacement – nearly 400 schools in the area were burned, looted or vandalized.

UNICEF is providing tents and recreation kits for distribution by the Kenya Red Cross to enable temporary schools to accommodate displaced children around the country.

Kenyan authorities now estimate that 116,000 people are displaced in the Northern Rift Valley region, and they are working with the UN World Food Programme (WFP) to devise a distribution plan to provide up to one month’s food rations to the displaced.

WFP reports that people in Nairobi’s Kibera slum continue to need food assistance and UN aid workers have planned another round of food distribution for some 2,000 households later this week.

The agency estimates that its food has already reached more than a quarter of a million people. The food has been borrowed from WFP’s existing stocks for its operations in Kenya, including an emergency operation targeting some 682,000 people still suffering from the effects of the 2005 drought and more than one million children who normally receive school meals from WFP.

“It is vital that stocks borrowed from these operations can be replaced and it is vital that more funds arrive to allow WFP to continue deliver food to the people affected by post-election violence and also people in need who are served by our normal operations,” WFP’s Penny Ferguson told reporters in Nairobi.

For its part, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) distributed nearly 300 family kits to the displaced in Jamhuri Park in Nairobi through the Kenya Red Cross, and has delivered another 400 kits for further distribution. Trucks carrying 340 family kits and 10,000 sanitary packs arrived in Eldoret on Saturday, and UNHCR plans to start distributing them to the displaced through the Kenya Red Cross.

Meanwhile, former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan is expected to arrive tomorrow in Nairobi where he will be joined by the former Mozambican first lady Graca Machel and Tanzania’s Benjamin Mkapa to begin their mission as the African Union (AU) Panel of Eminent Personalities to facilitate negotiations for a political solution to the disputed presidential election results.