Tuesday, January 8, 2008

AMREF Kenya relief update

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Story Link: http://www.amref.org/index.asp?PageID=35&PressReleaseID=306

AMREF - The African Medical and Research Foundation (Flying Doctors)

Post-election violence in Kenya
7 January 2008

Homes have been destroyed, burnt or looted, and hundreds of families are now living in police stations, churches and schools, many of them with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Shops, markets and vehicles have also been destroyed, leaving thousands of entrepreneurs and their employees with no source of income.

The towns most affected by the conflict are Eldoret, Kisumu and Kisii in western Kenya, Mombasa on the eastern coast and Nairobi.

The insecurity has led to a severe transportation breakdown. For days after the violence broke out following the December 27th election, major roads linking Nairobi to the coast and to western Kenya were blocked by gangs of armed youths, causing bus companies to cancel operations. As a result, many towns and neighboring countries have run short of gas and kerosene, the major fuel source for poor urban households, and in some cases causing prices to shoot up by up to 50 per cent.

Many people who traveled out of Nairobi for the holidays and the election have found themselves stranded, unable to travel back to Nairobi and other towns where they live and work.

Sakwa Mwangala, project officer for Kibera slum in Nairobi, which has been badly affected by the violence, is currently stranded in Kakamega. Sakwa said: “Two convoys have made it through to Nairobi now, so I hope to be able to go back to Nairobi with my family soon.”
He added: ”Out of the 15 staff in AMREF’s Kibera Health Clinic, which provides health care for more than 97,000 people, nine people haven’t made it back to Nairobi, one staff member is in Eldoret, which has experienced horrific violence. Fortunately she is safe and is staying at the IDP camp near the police station.”

In anticipation of post-election violence, staff at the Kibera clinic made sure that patients living with HIV and TB had enough medication in the event the clinic closed. On Monday AMREF reopened the Kibera Clinic, but will close again on Tuesday due to rallies planned in and around Nairobi.

At least 45,000 people have taken refuge at Jamhuri Park in Nairobi – and more people are coming every day. AMREF expects that the internally displaced population in Jamhuri will be there for several months.

The African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) has vast experience in post-conflict health interventions, and is in discussions with the Kenya Red Cross on how to help the affected communities. Currently, people at the camps for the internally displaced have few, unreliable and unsafe sources of water, putting them at high risk of diarrhea and other water-borne infections, as well as dehydration.

According to AMREF’s Kenya Country Director, Mette Kjaer: “We are working with the Kenya Red Cross to ensure that AMREF’s intervention will be where we are most needed and most effective. The longer the crisis continues, the greater the risk to people's health.”

Within the greater East African region, the fallout from the violence is being felt in several countries whose economies depend greatly on consumer products from Kenya. The landlocked countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Southern Sudan depend on Kenya for petroleum products whose entry point is the port of Mombasa. In Uganda, fuel prices have sky rocketed to $5 per liter, while humanitarian operations in Southern Sudan have come to a standstill due to lack of fuel.

For the latest update, listen to Alanna Rondi, AMREF Canada's Executive Director, live this morning on CBC Radio: Metro Morning with Andy Barrie. To download real player, click here.

Who we are

AMREF’s mission is to improve the health of disadvantaged people in Africa as a means for them to escape poverty and improve the quality of their lives. Our mission determines that we work in six areas of focus, or Priority Intervention Areas (PIAs).
HIV/AIDS, TB and Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Safe Water and Basic Sanitation
Family Health
Clinical Services, Disaster Management and Emergency Response
Training and Health Learning Materials
The AMREF mission is to be achieved by: developing, testing and promoting the adoption of models for improving health and reducing poverty; training and capacity building at all levels; and contributing to the development of an environment that enables health and wealth improvement.

AMREF is the continent’s leading health development organisation.
AMREF has offices in 5 Eastern and Southern African countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. We have field offices in Somalia and Sudan. Each year we train health professionals from countries all over the African Continent. Our headquarters are in Nairobi, Kenya, and we are proud that 97% of our staff is African.

Winner of the 2005 Gates Award for Global Health
AMREF was announced the winner of the Gates Award for Global Health for making major and lasting contribution to the field of health in Africa
Click here to learn more

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