The Director General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, on Thursday said she and the entire UN family in Kenya were greatly concerned at the deadly outbursts of violence that have gripped Kenya following the announcement of election results last week reportedly claiming more than 300 lives, including dozens burned to death inside a church.
“Thousands of people are displaced and at risk. Supplies of food, water, fuel, essential medicines are acutely low in many densely populated areas. Transport corridors from the Port of Mombasa through Kenya are restricted, causing supply chain disruption to our humanitarian and peace-keeping operations in the region, for example for Southern Sudan, Uganda and parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo,” Mrs. Tibaijuka said.
She said many shops and markets remain closed and in some areas have been destroyed, and she cited disturbing reports of victimisation of vulnerable groups including sexual abuse of and assault on women and children. She also said thousands of homes and properties had been destroyed. Slum populations in cities, many of whom live on a daily wage and subsistence basis, are critically short of food and other essential items. There is a need to ensure freedom of movement of people and goods to and from slums.
Mrs. Tibaijuka said the UN is currently working with the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement, which is present in most locations. The focus of these efforts are on saving lives in affected areas, and that the UN Country Team, led by the Resident Coordinator, Mrs. Elizabeth Lwanga, would ensure full coordination across all UN Agencies, as well as with non-UN partners and government. The UN humanitarian system, through its ongoing programming has some pre-positioned supplies, and access to additional resources.
Humanitarian access has become a major problem, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which reported that the Nairobi-Nakuru road is currently being blocked by vigilante groups.
For its part, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says it is ready to help up to 85,000 people with shelter and basic supplies, and has already pre-positioned 13,000 family kits – which contain blankets, tarpaulins, cooking sets, soap and jerry cans – with a further 2,000 kits in the pipeline.
At the same time, the UN refugee agency has sent a team to the Kenya-Uganda border, following reports that 600 Kenyans have arrived there.
The UN system in Kenya has appealed to the Kenyan Government and security forces to establish safe corridors for public transport, ensure that ongoing humanitarian operations are not disrupted and initiate a national reconciliation process at the earliest possible opportunity.
In New York on Thursday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was shocked at the situation in Kenya.
A statement issued by his spokesperson said Mr. Ban is “increasingly troubled” by the escalating tensions and violence in the aftermath of last week’s polls.
“He is shocked by reports that dozens of civilians were burned to death in a church in Eldoret, and that 300 people have now been reported killed in this deplorable outburst of violence,” it added.
Strongly urging the authorities to do all they can to prevent any further violence, Mr. Ban “reminds the Government, as well as the political and religious leaders of Kenya of their legal and moral responsibility to protect the lives of innocent people, regardless of their racial, religious or ethnic origin.”
The Secretary-General is in touch with the leadership in Kenya, the African Union and other concerned parties on how to address the current crisis.
Meanwhile, the UN’s Disaster Management Team in Kenya joined the Kenyan Red Cross to assess humanitarian needs and determine how it can best help alleviate the current crisis.