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Kenya: Security Council voices concern over continued post-election violence

Kenya: Security Council voices concern over continued post-election violence

Council President Ambassador Ricardo Alberto Arias of Panama
Despite the announcement of progress in negotiations between the Government and the opposition, the Security Council today expressed its concern over the continued violence in Kenya which first broke out after last December’s contested polls.

“The Council deplores the widespread violence following the elections, which has resulted in extensive loss of life and serious humanitarian consequences,” the 15-member body said in a presidential statement read out by Ambassador Ricardo Alberto Arias of Panama, which holds the rotating presidency this month.

It also noted that “civilians continue to be killed, subjected to sexual and gender-based violence and displaced from their homes.”

According to the Kenya Red Cross Society, more than 1,000 people have lost their lives and over 300,000 have been displaced since the 27 December 2007 elections in which President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner over opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Today’s statement underlined the need for “dialogue, negotiation and compromise” as the only avenue by which to resolve the current crisis. It also urged the East African nation’s leaders to promote reconciliation.

Welcoming the 1 February announcement of advances – such as the adoption of a road map and an agenda – towards finding a solution, the Council expressed its full support for the Panel of Eminent African Personalities, led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The body called for all parties to “meet their responsibility” to resolve the crisis, as well as taking immediate measures to curb the violence, which includes ethnically-motivated attacks, and to restore human rights.

Regarding Kenya’s “dire” humanitarian situation, the Council called for the protection of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), as well as aid workers and UN personnel.

Also today, a fact-finding mission deployed by High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour arrived in Kenya, and during the next three weeks the team will investigate allegations of grave rights violations in the post-election period.

Yesterday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced that he was dispatching his top humanitarian official to the violence-wracked nation.

John Holmes, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, is scheduled to arrive in the capital Nairobi on Friday, 8 February, for a three-day mission to assess the humanitarian situation in the country.

He intends to meet with Government authorities, opposition leaders, UN staff, aid agencies, donors and diplomats.

Mr. Holmes, who also serves as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, will travel to the Rift Valley, where most of the recent fighting took place, to speak with IDPs and others who have been impacted by the violence.

In a related development, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has supplied enough food for one month for close to 4,500 IDPs in the eastern town of Turbo.

Also, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that there are more than 7,000 displaced people at the Nakuru camp in the Rift Valley, while there are some 12,000 IDPs residing in more than two dozen camps in Nairobi.