Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Recent headlines - Tues 7/8/2008

The following Kenya articles are from:

  • IRIN reports
  • Reuters
  • BBC
Refugees staying in Uganda
Homeless face grim return
Kenyan leaders in call for peace
Huge financial cost of new cabinet
Kenyan voices
State 'sanctioned' clashes
Healing hands? Can new prime minister solve Kenya's many problems?

From BBC page: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/africa/2008/kenya/default.stm

KENYA: IDPs hold out for better compensation - IRIN

NAKURU, 7 July (IRIN) - Jane Wanjiru Maina, a mother of seven, is tired of living in an internally displaced people's (IDP) camp in the show grounds of Nakuru, in the Rift Valley.

"The tents are now starting to leak and I can see a possibility of spending the [Christmas] holidays here," said Maina, who also has three grandchildren under her care in the camp. She lost property worth 485,000 shillings (US$8,000) during a wave of violence that followed December's presidential election.

"Although I would really like to leave so that I can take care of my family like I used to before, I have to stay on until the government comes up with a better compensation package," she said.Each resettled IDP household is receiving 10,000 shillings ($166) in family assistance funds. The IDPs also take home a one-month food ration along with a kitchen kit.

"If I leave this place with 10,000 shillings, will my grandchildren ever learn to read and write?" she asked. "We are not landowners so why should we have to go back to receive compensation?" The resettlement funds are paid out in areas of return.Most of the former IDPs who have returned to their places of origin are landowning farmers, according to a report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Many of those still living in camps are agricultural workers, who do not own land, or business people.

At least 68,519 IDPs were still in 101 camps as of 1 July, according to the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS).Another IDP among the 14,000 living in the Nakuru show grounds said he preferred to stay there to be in a better position to lobby for more support.

"Why should I get the same amount of money as someone who is going back to his farm?" Samuel Mbote asked. "Even if you are moved [from the camp] with the tent, where will you pitch it?"

More time
The IDPs in the showground camp and the Afraha stadium camp, also in Nakuru, had been expected to start returning home on 1 July.

However, they asked for more time to allow them to bury an IDP killed during a demonstration.

According to the director of resettlements at the Ministry of Special Programmes, Wilfred Ndolo, discussions were ongoing to find a long-term solution for such IDPs. "They will probably get interest-free loans," he said.

He added that there were plans to provide an extra 25,000 shillings ($416) for shelter support. "We have the money but we still do not have the data of those who lost their houses."

At least 36 million shillings ($600,000) has been paid out in shelter support to 3,600 households, he said.Meanwhile, the IDPs who remained in the camps were still receiving assistance. "They have food, water and electricity," Anthony Mwangi, the KRCS public relations manager, said.

"Nobody is being forced to leave the camp. They don't want to go back with no [shelter] structures," he said. The KRCS has built 10 houses for returnees in the Matharu area of the Rift Valley with plans for the construction of another 1,000 units depending on funding.

Transport problems had also delayed IDP returns at the Kedong camp in Naivasha, he said.

The Red Cross official said there was a need for further efforts to foster reconciliation. IDPs who had been resettled in Surgow, in Eldoret North District, from a camp in Eldoret had to be returned to the camp after receiving a hostile reception.

According to OCHA, about 100,000 people have left IDP camps for 134 "transit sites" near their home areas. The OCHA report said sanitation facilities in some sites was below standard, with residents defecating in the open, leading to a risk of disease.

Cases of malnutrition have also been detected among IDPs in "host" communities not targeted by food aid, according to OCHA.

The resettlement of IDPs began on 5 May in Kenya's Rift Valley Province under a government campaign, Operation Rudi Nyumbani (Go Back Home). So far, at least 210,000 IDPs have left the camps, including those in transit sites, Ndolo said.


Kenyan govt says Kimunya departure only temporary - Reuters

Tue 8 Jul 2008, 9:49 GMT

NAIROBI, July 8 (Reuters) - Kenya's president has accepted an offer by Finance Minister Amos Kimunya to step aside for a probe into the controversial sale of a luxury hotel, but the move is only temporary, a government spokesman said on Tuesday.

"The finance minister has been in discussions already with the president over this," government spokesman Alfred Mutua said. "But he will not be replaced, it's only a temporary move."

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Kenyan finance minister steps aside for hotel probe - Reuters
Tue 8 Jul 2008, 10:58 GMT

(Adds details, analyst, currency)
By Helen Nyambura-Mwaura and Daniel Wallis

NAIROBI, July 8 (Reuters) - Kenya's finance minister stepped aside on Tuesday to allow an investigation into the sale of a luxury hotel that critics have called the latest example of high-level corruption in east Africa's largest economy.

The Grand Regency controversy has put the biggest strain yet on Kenya's fragile coalition government, set up in April to end a bloody crisis over disputed presidential elections.

"I have requested the president to allow me to step aside to facilitate this inquiry," Kimunya told reporters after a no-confidence vote in parliament and a bombardment of resignation calls in recent days.

A government spokesman said President Mwai Kibaki had accepted the decision by his close ally. "But he will not be replaced, it's only a temporary move," Alfred Mutua said.

Kimunya -- a 46-year-old accountant from Kibaki's Kikuyu ethnic group -- said his conscience remained "very clear" on the role played by the treasury in this month's sale.

He said he was open to an independent inquiry to prove his innocence. Critics say the hotel was secretly sold to Libyan buyers at a cheap price of 2.9 billion shillings ($45 million).

But Kimunya allies say he has been subjected to a witch hunt in the media by ill-informed foes.

The local shilling currency reacted slightly to Kimunya's announcement, briefly weakening to 65.85/95 versus the dollar, before returning to a roughly similar level to that before the news of 65.73/93.

"It was more or less priced in," said one dealer, Peter Njuguna, of Commercial Bank of Africa.

At the weekend, Kimunya had said he would only step down over the matter if three other top government officials, including Prime Minister Raila Odinga, did the same.

Odinga and both of the others -- Lands Minister James Orengo and Attorney General Amos Wako -- have denied any wrongdoing.

Orengo has threatened to sue Kimunya, and Odinga was due to give a statement to parliament on the case later on Tuesday.

Anti-graft groups and some ministers have sharply criticised the no-bid sale of the Regency, saying it should have been public and that the hotel was worth nearer 6 billion shillings.

In its no-confidence vote last week, Kenya's parliament accused Kimunya of ignoring public procurement laws in the sale and of contempt for parliament.

The dispute has widened fault-lines between pro-Kibaki and pro-Odinga ministers in the coalition cabinet, which was formed in April to keep the peace after a deadly post-election crisis.

Odinga's supporters say Kibaki stole the December presidential vote by fraud.

Kibaki's side says then-opposition leader Odinga deliberately stirred violence that killed 1,500 in arguably the most traumatic period of Kenya's post-independence history.

Analysts said that should Kimunya's departure be made permanent, Kibaki would almost certainly keep the portfolio for an ally from his Party of National Unity (PNU).

Political and business commentator Robert Shaw said Kimunya had "no choice" but to step aside.

And "if the choice of the finance minister is by the president under the current power sharing agreement, then it is likely to be someone from PNU", he said.

In 2006, two ministers stepped aside after being linked to a corruption scandal known as "Anglo-Leasing", but were later reinstated by Kibaki.

© Reuters 2008. All Rights Reserved.
Learn more about Reuters

KENYA: Lack of facilities hampering bid to halt black fever outbreak

ISIOLO, 7 July (IRIN) - A lack of laboratory facilities, transport and skilled medical workers is hampering efforts to tackle an outbreak of visceral leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease also known as kala azar or black fever, in northern Kenya's Isiolo and Wajir districts, officials said.

"We have a serious shortage of personnel to cover the affected area. We are also faced with the problem of mobility as we have only one vehicle for the work," said Ali Wario, a public health officer in Isiolo, told IRIN.

He added that there was a lack of personnel trained in the prevention and management of the disease.The outbreak has killed five people since it was first recorded in April 2008. Ten more cases were confirmed in July by a special surveillance team. In early June, the total number of confirmed cases was 66.

"We must now move to prevent as we treat the cases at Merti [health centre in Isiolo], but lack of medicines and transport must be addressed urgently," he added.

A local councillor, Ibrahim Halake, appealed to the government and aid agencies to provide vehicles to help affected families travel to health centres.

"Families are selling their animals. We have been asked on several occasions to help raise funds for those who are sick. Many families are poor and cannot afford to travel to the health centre - it is far," he told IRIN.

Once it enters the body, the leishmaniasis parasite, which is carried by sand flies, migrates to internal organs and bone marrow. If an infection progresses and is left untreated, it almost always results in death.

Sand flies thrive in the cracks of mud-covered dwellings, in cow dung, rat burrows, ant-hills, dry river beds and vegetation. In Wajir, the flies often bite people as they dig for water in the bed of the Ewaso Nyiro River or graze their livestock.

Kala azar is endemic in northern Kenya and outbreaks are common in times of drought.


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