Friday, January 18, 2008

Today's Headlines - 1/18/2008

Kenya opposition vows economic boycott after 'final' protests

by Bogonko Bosire 20 minutes ago

Kenya's opposition said Friday it would launch an economic boycott of companies linked to the government after staging a final day of protests over the disputed re-election of President Mwai Kibaki.

Riot police and paramilitary units kept a tight grip on Nairobi and opposition strongholds in western Kenya as they prepared to face off with protestors for the third day running.

According to police, 16 people have been killed since the nationwide rallies kicked off on Wednesday, sparking international fears the east African nation -- once a beacon of regional stability -- would further sink into chaos.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) said it was ending the protests because civilians were paying too heavy a price.

"Today is the last day of demonstrations. We have seen a lot of suffering caused by reckless police action against peaceful protestors," ODM spokesman Salim Lone told AFP.

Kenyan police opened fire on crowds, used tear gas and beat protestors, drawing accusations from the opposition and rights group of random and excessive force.

Odinga says he was robbed of the presidency in December polls, accusing Kibaki of rigging his re-election. His party described the 76-year-old president as "an eminent thief".

More than 700 people have been killed in riots, police raids and ethnically-driven clashes since Kibaki was declared the winner of the election on December 30.

On Friday, no incidents were reported in Nairobi by noon (0900 GMT) but some 200 demonstrators had gathered in Kisumu, a western opposition bastion and the country's third city, an AFP correspondent reported.

Chanting "No Raila, no peace", protestors lit bonfires as riot police deployed en masse.
The ODM announced it would seek to undermine a government packed with Kibaki's closest allies by targeting their sources of funding.

"We are now moving on to a new phase of the struggle and this will include initiating (an) economic boycott by consumers of large companies owned by hardliners around Mr Kibaki," Lone told AFP.

Among the brands targeted by ODM, Lone mentioned Brookside Dairies -- a large company owned by Local Government Minister Uhuru Kenyatta -- as well as the Citi Hoppa public transport company, Kenya Bus Services and Equity Bank.

All the companies are owned by leading members of Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe, which has dominated the country's political and economic life for years.

The government dismissed the boycott call.

"It's the right of the people of Kenya to choose what to do. But I bet it will fail," government spokesman Alfred Mutua said in a statement.

While no major foreign power has come out strongly against Kibaki, the international community has voiced concern over flaws in last month's polls and urged feuding factions to engage in dialogue and stop the bloodshed.

Full story from AP at Yahoo News.

Kenya protesters to mount boycott

Security forces have been patrolling Nairobi's Kibera slum
Police crackdown

Kenya's opposition says it will change tactics to protest against the outcome of last month's presidential election, following three days of mass rallies.

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) says it will boycott companies run by senior allies of President Mwai Kibaki.

At least 600 people have died in violence since the poll. In the latest unrest police have been firing tear gas and bullets at protesters in Mombasa.

Kenya's National Commission on Human Rights has also cast doubt on the vote.

At a news conference in Nairobi, the state-sponsored body listed a catalogue of irregularities in the tallying and announcement of results.

At least 360,000 votes could not be verified, the commission said. About 230,000 separated the two candidates.

27 December: Presidential and parliamentary elections
30 December: President Kibaki declared winner, triggering widespread unrest
10 January: First international mediation effort fails
16-18 January: three days of mass opposition rallies

The officials results have outraged supporters of ODM candidate Raila Odinga, who has demanded a re-run.

The movement is holding a third and final consecutive day of nationwide protests on Friday.

Full story from BBC.

Kenya police disperse protesters for third day

Fri Jan 18, 2008 7:54am EST
By Daniel Wallis and C. Bryson Hull

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenyan police killed a protester in the port of Mombasa, the opposition said, and a man died in ethnic violence in the southwest on Friday, the third day of demonstrations against President Mwai Kibaki's re-election.

Police also opened fire in Nairobi's Kibera slum and fired tear gas at Muslim protesters in both the capital and Mombasa.

"The police shot dead a young man who was peacefully demonstrating," opposition legislator Najib Balala told reporters. Local police chief Wilfred Mbithi said he had heard reports of a death but could not confirm them.

Earlier, police in the Indian Ocean port fired tear gas at several hundred protesters marching from the main mosque after Friday prayers.

Police also fired tear gas at around 100 protesters outside Nairobi's central mosque, on the last day of scheduled demonstrations that have seen at least nine people killed, mostly when police opened fire.

In Kibera, an opposition stronghold, Reuters reporter Nick Tattersall said he could hear both pistol and automatic rifle fire followed by women screaming.

"People are really afraid. They were shot yesterday and others were beaten seriously," said Kevin Shihafu, a 20-year-old unemployed resident.

Protesters built a burning barricade in the slum.

The opposition, which says Kibaki stole the December 27 election, accuses the police of using excessive force. The police say they have only shot at rioters and looters.

In southwest Kenya, police said a man from President Mwai Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe was killed with a poisoned arrow by a group of Maasai anti-government protesters in Narok town, gateway to the Maasai Mara game reserve.

Maasai and Kikuyu had been fighting in the area since Thursday with homes and shops burned and at least 23 wounded, the police said.

Kibaki's disputed victory unleashed a wave of political and ethnic violence, in which more than 600 people have died and around 250,000 fled their homes.

Kenya's swift slide into crisis has dented its democratic credentials, horrified world powers, scared off tourists and hurt one of Africa's most promising economies.

Protests also resumed on Friday in the western opposition stronghold of Kisumu, where more than 300 youths set fire to a fuel tanker to block the road.

Another road was blocked with telephone boxes.

But it was quieter in the city than on previous days when police shot several protesters.

Full story from Reuters.

Outrage at Kenya police tactics

By Noel Mwakugu BBC News, Nairobi

Kisumu in west Kenya is one of the key flashpoints

Shots leave man dead

As Kenya's opposition protests enter a third day, people are increasingly questioning the actions of the police, who are accused of shooting dead protesters.

The killings have sparked outrage across the country.

On Thursday, human rights activist Okia Omtata chained himself to the barriers of the Nairobi police headquarters and, as bystanders watched, clutched a rosary chanting: "You are killing people in this country. That is wrong.

"The sanctity of life must be protected."

He was soon arrested.

Earlier, television footage had suggested a policeman in Kisumu may have shot dead in cold blood an unarmed man taking part in opposition protests against last month's disputed elections.
The protester was making faces at the anti-riot unit when an officer approached him, armed with a rifle.

I am convinced among [the police] there are those who do not approve of what is happening

Onyango Oloo, human rights activist

The young man fell down and the policeman is shown kicking the prostrate man in the back.

Within minutes, bullets were fired at close range. The protester was later pronounced dead.

In defence, police spokesman Eric Kiraithe insists officers are well aware that they are dealing with innocent people being "used by politicians".

"Some are drunk on alcohol and others are high on drugs and it is obvious they are innocent, so we are not using excessive force to disperse them," he said.

The police chief in Kisumu said officers had disobeyed orders to only use tear gas and truncheons and were investigating the incident.

Full story from BBC.

Frustration and anger of Kenyans

As fresh political violence erupts in Kenya, the BBC News website hears the views on the crisis of two ordinary Kenyans from different sides of the track.


I threw stones at the police. Many, many actually.

In return they fired live shots into the air as some started approaching us and then others began gassing us.

Even though there were so many of us the live bullets are still a worry. They should aim up but they don't - they aim right at us.

I was not frightened.

When you are faced with the reality of life, when it comes to this, you can't be afraid, not now.

Guns, shields and batons
What frightens me is that I'll die of hunger.

We should be allowed to express our feelings as citizens. We don't need the police to come and invade our lives and our basic needs.

They have arms and are all dressed up in combat gear wearing their red berets. I don't know a lot about guns but I think the ones they have are AK-47s. The ones who don't have guns, have shields. Some of them have batons.

Someone managed to set fire to a few tyres between us the crowd and the police. They were blazing


All we have is stones.
They have power.
No-one even listens to us.

Full story from BBC

Boy's death exposes Kenya's tragedy

By Karen Allen BBC News, Kisumu, western Kenya

Salim Hamed was out playing football in a poor neighbourhood of Kisumu when three stray bullets, fired by police, struck him in the back.

He died, aged just 13 - another casualty of Kenya's post-election violence.

He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, caught up as protesters were repelled by a volley of gunfire.

Salim had wanted to be an engineer. Now this life cut short is a tragic statistic in the history of 21st Century Kenya.

The people who have come to pay their respects are terrified that their country has been plunged into such chaos.

As men prepare to load the child's body, wrapped in a simple blanket, onto a truck, his father, Ahmed Ibrahim Hussein, expresses fears that there will be bitter recriminations.

"Such a thing will bring hate to both sides. If his excellency the president does not resign, I fear people will keep on dying," he says.

The Luo community... are feeling angry. Angry that 'their man' is being 'cheated' out of the presidency. They want to protest but they are told they can't

The grieving is interrupted when what should have been a sombre procession to honour a young boy turns into a political rally.

Full story from BBC

8 More Killed in Chaos

The Nation (Nairobi)
NEWS18 January 2008

Posted to the web 18 January 2008 Nairobi

Eight more people were killed in Nairobi and Kisumu as police battled with demonstrators on the second day of rallies called by ODM to protest at the disputed results of the December Presidential election.

Police shot a man identified by relatives as Felix Okong'o in Nairobi's Mathare North area in what they said was a confrontation between them and demonstrators.

Another man was killed in Kibera while a third was burnt to death in a house in Nairobi's Ruaraka area.

Meanwhile, the European Union Parliament Thursday passed a resolution to freeze aid to Kenya until the election dispute is resolved.

Anti-riot police were engaged in running battles in the city's Mathare, Kibera and Dagoretti areas in an effort to stop ODM supporters from making their way to Uhuru Park, the venue of the rally, which was sealed off by GSU officers.

Calm was reported in other parts of the country as the ODM protest rallies entered a second day.

The party claims its Presidential candidate Raila Odinga won the elections but the polls were rigged in favour of President Kibaki.

Full story from Nationmedia on

ODM to Call Off Protests

The Nation (Nairobi)
NEWS18 January 2008

Posted to the web 18 January 2008 Nairobi

The Orange Democratic Movement is expected to call off mass action after today’s protests and change strategy in their push for justice over the contested re-election of President Kibaki.

At the same time, sections of the rail line to western Kenya have been destroyed by mobs shouting “No Raila! No Rail” in the third day of demonstrations. Sections of the rail has been removed at Nairobi’s Kibera slums and at Kibos, near Kisumu.

The Reuters news agency has quoted ODM spokesman Salim Lone saying that the protests will end after demonstrations today.

"These last three days have been very painful and we have seen a lot of needless deaths and suffering ... but today is the last day of the protests and we are now going to move on," Mr Lone said.

Kenya's rapid slide into crisis since the December 27 election has dented its democratic credentials, horrified world powers, scared off tourists and hurt one of Africa's most promising economies.

Lone said ODM would switch to other forms of action like small strikes and boycotts of companies run by what he called government hardliners backing Kibaki.

"One of the purposes is to weaken the hardliners and strengthen the moderates," Lone said, mentioning Brookside Dairies, Equity Bank and Citi Hoppa Buses as possible targets.

ODM supporters have fought running battles with police firing teargas and live ammunition since the start of the three-day protests on Wednesday.

The Government has banned rallies called by ODM despite calls from Western nations, including the United States and Britain, for it to allow peaceful protests.

The United States, in a statement late yesterday, blamed both sides of the political divide for the violence.

"That violence springs from the fact that there are clashes because of the political deadlock," US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.

"More than anything else they need to come together for the Kenyan people and for Kenya's future."

Former UN head Kofi Annan is due to lead the latest peace push after African Union talks failed last week. He was set to fly in this week but fell ill with flu. The UN says he is recovering but has given no date for his arrival.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport, Mr Gerishon Ikiara said five trains taking fuel to Uganda were yesterday halted after the rail line was destroyed at Kibera and Kibos areas following mass demonstrations.

He said transport in various areas was also disrupted. In western Kenya major highways were barricaded.

Full story from Nationmedia on

Observers criticise post poll standards

Publication Date: 1/18/2008

The December 27 General Election failed to meet international standards on human rights and civil liberties, an international observer mission has said.

In its final verdict, the Commonwealth Observer Mission maintains that the election had major flaws which occurred mainly in the post-polling period.

“It is therefore our view that the election process following the closing of the polls fell short of acceptable international standards,” says the group.

The Kenya General Election report says the events that have unfolded since the polling day had eroded the confidence of the Kenyan people. The manner in which the results were announced had raised suspicion and caused widespread mistrust, it states.

Full story from Nationmedia

Kenya's Protests: A Moment of Truth?

By Nick Wadhams/Nairobi
Thursday, Jan. 17, 2008

Protesters clashed with police on the second day of what Kenya's opposition leaders had billed as three days of mass action over Kenya's flawed election. The turnout across the country, however, was limited to poor areas and far below what the organizers sought. Opposition leader Raila Odinga, who claims he was robbed of the country's presidency in a December 27 vote, said that at least seven people had been killed on Thursday in the western city of Kisumu, a stronghold of his that has seen some of the worst of the post-election violence. Another two were reported killed in the giant Nairobi slum of Mathare.

During a news conference in which he showed television footage of a policeman shooting two protesters, who were later said to have died, Odinga called President Mwai Kibaki's government "a fanatical, crazed group of people who, in their lust for power at any cost, have taken leave of their senses." Odinga said, "The government and the police have turned this country into killing fields of the innocent."

While Odinga displayed evidence of police abuses, it was unclear how many of the people who voted for him were willing to join in his cause. Despite the violence in Nairobi's slums and in Kisumu, a town dominated by Odinga's Luo tribe in the western part of Kenya, most of the workers in the capital carried on with their lives. Across the country, people seemed weary of a crisis that has now lasted for more than two weeks without face-to-face negotiations between Kibaki and Odinga.

In Kibera, a group of women shouted down a man who approached reporters and told them that Kenya would only see peace once Odinga was named President. That reaction may be a bad sign for Odinga because Kibera is a key stronghold for him and the constituency that elected him to parliament.

When he announced the three days of protests, Odinga called on supporters to meet him for a mass rally in Nairobi's Uhuru — or Freedom — Park. On Wednesday, Odinga's chief advisers, known as "The Pentagon," got as far as a few of Nairobi's finer hotels before police with truncheons and shields barred their way to the park. Eventually, they gave up and went home. The main police targets just across from the park were journalists, who were repeatedly tear-gassed and charged by police on horseback.

Government officials have pointed to the low turnout for the days of protest as signs that support for Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement is waning. They have justified their ban on public rallies by claiming that ODM supporters are raping women in Kibera, and that the group's leaders are simply fomenting violence. "They are just waking up at 10 o'clock, eating eggs and sausages, giving interviews and planning how to disrupt people's lives," government spokesman Alfred Mutua told reporters.

Like Odinga, Mutua insists that the government is open to dialogue, and the world will see how far both sides are willing to commit when former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrives in the coming days. Annan had originally planned to arrive on Tuesday night, but postponed his trip when he fell ill with the flu.

While many Kenyans clearly do want to get on with their lives, there are signs that suggest the police are also using firepower to intimidate and harass Odinga's supporters. Odinga, after all, got 4.35 million votes in the election, and one mystery has been that so few of those who cast ballots for him have heeded his call for action. On Thursday, the police allowed only women to leave the Kibera slum, and any man who came too close was threatened with four-foot-long wooden sticks. Many were beaten.

"We are fighting for justice in Kenya," said Roland Peterson, who wore a bright white woolen hat embroidered with a New York Yankees logo, dancing around a flaming barricade in the Kibera slum. "It was peaceful but now they are killing our people, we can't maintain peace while they are killing our people. We ought to fight."

In a clear sign of international displeasure, the United States has said that it will not allow "business as usual" in the East African nation, and several countries including the U.S. have threatened to suspend development aid if Kenya does not address the political crisis. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack criticized both sides for the violence that has killed more than 600 people. "Both sides bear responsibility for the fact that there is still violence. That violence springs from the fact that there are clashes because of the political deadlock," McCormack told reporters. "More than anything else they need to come together for the Kenyan people and for Kenya's future."

Perhaps the most discouraging sign for the protesters came from Odinga himself. On Wednesday, he had scolded reporters when asked if he would risk arrest and march on the park, telling them that he was not afraid and reminding them he had spent nine years in the jails of autocratic President Daniel arap Moi.

Yet on Thursday, the man with a reputation as a fiery, charismatic populist struck a sour note when he told reporters that his advisers had warned him that it was too dangerous to try to march, even though central Nairobi had been quiet.

Asked how he felt not being able to join his supporters, Odinga replied: "I feel great." [interesting]

This is the full story from Google News, Time magazine. See related links at CNN.

Protesters Clash With Police in Kenya and Loot Train

Published: January 18, 2008

NAIROBI, Kenya — Law and order seem to be steadily deteriorating in some parts of Kenya, like the Kibera slum here in Nairobi, where on Thursday protesters hijacked and looted a freight train bound for Uganda.

Police officers responded by storming the area, and witnesses said officers shot several unarmed civilians.

Residents of Kibera said they had blocked the train tracks, which snake between rows of iron shanties, because nearly three weeks of postelection turbulence had left them with closed stores and dwindling supplies.

“The people are scared,” said Joseph Owira, a barber in Kibera. “There is no food.”

On the second day of a new round of nationwide protests, the situation in Kenya seemed as gloomy as ever, with opposition supporters fighting the police in several cities and Kenya’s political leaders still miles apart. The opposition is protesting the Dec. 27 election, in which President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner of a new term by a wafer-thin margin over Raila Odinga, the top opposition leader, who says the election was rigged.

On Thursday, Mr. Odinga held a news conference deploring the tactics used by the police to break up demonstrations, which the government has deemed illegal. Mr. Odinga had called on supporters to hold protests on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week. “Police are executing innocent citizens at will while the world watches and talks about dialogue,” Mr. Odinga said. “How do you dialogue with killers?”

Police officials said the only people harmed had been hooligans bent on robbing and looting.

Full story from NY Times.

Kenyans Hope for Quick Conflict Resolution

By Peter Clottey
Washington, D.C.
18 January 2008

Clottey Interview With Paul Mbatia
Listen to Clottey Interview With Paul Mbatia

Some Kenyans are reportedly hoping a compromise could soon be reached to end the post-election violence that has plunged the country into a political crisis. This comes after police again fired live bullets yesterday at protesters. Today (Friday) is the last of three nationwide rallies called by the main opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) to protest the results of the December 27 elections. The opposition has accused President Mwai Kibaki of rigging those elections. ODM leader Raila Odinga Thursday accused the police of turning the country into killing fields of the innocent during the opposition’s organized protest marches. The police have denied the charge.
Paul Mbatia is a Kenyan political science professor at the University of Nairobi. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that both the government and the opposition have failed to come to a compromise.
“The latest development is that the stalemate is still on. The ODM and PNU (ruling Party for National Unity) have not come to agree on how to resolve the stalemate. And ODM a few days ago, announced they would have three consecutive days of protest marches in Nairobi, and in other selected towns including Kisumu, Eldoret, Mombassa and many others. Security has been beefed up in all these towns, so eventually we had confrontation between the police and the crowd as the police tried to disperse the crowd. In some places it became very confrontational, and out of that I think about three people died. And that explains why Honorable Odinga was complaining that the police used lie bullets and not the rubber bullets,” Mbatia pointed out.
He said the police used force after they accused the protesters of turning the rallies into violence.
“The media reported that some people died, and that they were shot by the police. It was very clear that in some situations it was very dangerous confrontation because some youths were also stoning the police, but you cannot rule out the fact that at some point the police might have been provoked beyond any patience to actually shoot in defense of themselves or to just chase away the youths who are actually charging on them,” he noted.
Mbatia said although the protesters have a right to march to express their displeasure with the elections results, they should not go about destroying the people’s property.
“We know the law is the law and people have the right to mount a protest march. But again, that has to be done with an assurance that as they do that they don’t interfere with the lives of others, and they also don’t destroy properties of other people,” Mbatia said.
He said it was unfortunate that the recent protests have turned violent.

Full story from Google News, Voice of America

Kenya's Odinga keeps fighting

Long a political rival, he remains determined to lead the nation after losing an election he calls tainted. 'Surrender is not an option,' he says.

By Edmund Sanders, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
January 18, 2008

NAIROBI, KENYA -- Raila Odinga built a career as a political outsider.

As a young man, he watched as his father, a fighter for independence and Kenya's first vice president, was outmaneuvered by political opponents and eventually jailed. Odinga pursued his own path of dissent, spending much of the 1980s in jail or under house arrest for his alleged role in plotting a 1982 coup. Later, as an outspoken government critic, he masterminded a 2002 opposition coalition that put Mwai Kibaki into the presidency. But their partnership disintegrated, and Odinga found himself locked out of government again.

In an interview Thursday, Odinga said his credentials as an outsider are exactly what Kenya needs and pledged not to abandon his decades-old dream of leading this East African nation."I represent change," the politician said at his party headquarters in the capital, Nairobi, appearing bleary-eyed and tired from fighting a political war that began with the disputed Dec. 27 presidential election. "People voted for me because they want change."

Seven more demonstrators died in clashes with police around the country Thursday, the second day of a three-day "mass action" called by Odinga to protest the election, which he denounces as fraudulent. Odinga said that as many as 500 people had been killed by police during the last three weeks, many shot in the head.

Government officials have defended their handling of postelection riots and ethnic clashes, saying many of those shot were looting or killing innocent people.

Kibaki, who was declared the victor and inaugurated Dec. 30, says the protests are illegal and has called upon Odinga to cancel them. Undeterred, Odinga said he would expand his campaign next week to disrupt the government and economy by calling for boycotts of banks, bus companies, milk factories and other businesses that are supporting the Kibaki administration. He said he also would attempt to organize strikes among sympathetic unions in the hotel and security industries.

Postelection chaos has tarnished Kenya's reputation as a model for African democracy and cost the economy more than $1 billion. Tourism, a key industry, has screeched to a halt.But Odinga scoffed at the notion of giving up his pursuit and spending "another five years sitting outside the fence."

"To say we will surrender is not an option," he said. "It's not for me. It's for this country. It's for prosperity. If we just give up because we are doing things that destroy the economy, then change will never come."

Full story at Google News, LA Times

Kenya Opposition to End Demonstrations, Target Talks, Economy

By Karl Maier and Eric Ombok

Jan. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Kenya's opposition plans to end street protests against President Mwai Kibaki's re-election after rallies today and will begin calling for economic boycotts and talks with international mediators, a spokesman said.

Today is the last of three days of demonstrations called by Raila Odinga, leader of the Orange Democratic Movement, to protest the Dec. 27 election that he says Kibaki rigged. Odinga said yesterday police shot dead at least seven demonstrators and that 1,000 people have died in post-election violence.

``This is the end of the demonstration phase and we are now going to target economic boycotts of companies owned by hardliners and to ask unions to strike,'' ODM spokesman Salim Lone said in a phone interview today from Nairobi, the capital.

Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is expected to arrive in Nairobi on Jan. 20 to begin his bid to mediate a settlement to the crisis, Lone said. The election result sparked clashes, forced 250,000 to flee their homes and exposed tensions among the more than 40 ethnic groups in the previously stable East African nation.

``The protests have shown that the government will use quite brutal force and live rounds to kill protesters,'' Lone said. ``This has quite alarmed the international community and Kenyans themselves.''

Police and ODM supporters clashed yesterday in Nairobi's central business district as well as in the western cities of Kisumu and Eldoret.

The Kenyan Finance Ministry estimates that the violence has cost the economy, East Africa's biggest, about $1 billion.

Mediation Team
Annan's mediation effort will include former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa and Graca Machel, the wife of South Africa's first black president, Nelson Mandela. Mkapa and Machel are already in Kenya, the Foreign Ministry said today.

The European Parliament called for freezing of aid payments to Kibaki's government until the political standoff is resolved, in a nonbinding resolution passed yesterday in Strasbourg, France.

Kenya must respect democracy and hold a new election if there is no recount by an independent body, the elected assembly of the 27-nation European Union said in a statement.

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said both sides bear responsibility for the violence.

Full story from Bloomberg

Post-Election Violence Displaces Over 100,000 Children - Unicef

UN News Service (New York)
NEWS17 January 2008

Posted to the web 18 January 2008

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates that at least 100,000 children have been forced to flee their homes due to the wave of violence that swept through Kenya following last month's disputed elections.

The agency said that as many as 75,000 children are now residing in over 100 camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs), while many thousands more children are believed to be living temporarily with other family members.

Almost 600 people have lost their lives and some 255,000 others displaced during the crisis which began after President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner over opposition leader Raila Odinga in the country's polls late last December.

UNICEF has prioritized the provision of life-saving interventions - including water, sanitation, shelter and nutrition - as well as the protection of children and facilitating their return to school.

In the largest camps in the capital Nairobi and the western towns of Nakuru and Eldoret, the agency has established water and sanitation facilities by providing temporary latrines, water storage tanks, buckets and chlorine. This is expected to help 50,000 people.

Also in Kisumu and Eldoret, UNICEF is sending emergency health supplies to benefit more than 100,000 people.

It is assisting Kenya's Ministry of Health to operate screening centres in camps to identify and treat malnourished children. An emergency polio and measles vaccination programme, de-worming and vitamin A distribution are also underway.

Despite the re-opening of schools, the agency reported that far fewer pupils are attending. It has set up over 30 classroom tents and supplied school-in-a-box kits.

Recreation supplies to cover 7,000 children in camps in Nairobi, Nakuru and Eldoret have been dispatched, while UNICEF expects to send more kits to other badly-hit communities.

Child protection poses great challenges, and the agency has partnered with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to create systems to report abuses and identify at-risk children, with priority being given to reuniting families, establishing safe play areas and protecting girls and women from violence.

Approximately 1,500 treatment kits to prevent HIV infection as a result of rape have been dispatched to Eldoret and other areas.

Yesterday, the UN launched a $42 million appeal to supply food, water, shelter and other priority needs to some 500,000 people over the next six months.

The Kenya Emergency Humanitarian Response Plan 2008 includes dozens of projects to be carried out in the coming months to provide key services and supplies which have been identified by 22 aid partners, among them the UN and NGOs, with the participation of the Kenyan Government.

Copyright © 2008 UN News Service. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (

Full story from IRIN on

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