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Kenya: ICRC activities December 2007 to January 2008

21-01-2008 Operational Update

This report is an overview of ICRC activities in Kenya since the outbreak of violence that followed the election of 27 December 2007.

The situation remains tense particularly in Nairobi, the Rift Valley and Western Kenya as well as Mombassa. Despite international mediation efforts, there are no signs of movement towards a political solution to the situation. On Tuesday 15 January, parliament opened with the swearing-in of the MPs and the election of the Speaker, a heated contest won by the person designated by the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) on the third ballot. Parliament is not scheduled to resume until the middle of March.

The opposition ODM had scheduled three days of mass protest on 16, 17 and 18 January. A combination of muscled police control and bad weather kept the demonstrations contained. However, several people were killed or injured in skirmishes with police forces and in other incidents involving local gangs. On 18 January, the ODM announced a halt to mass demonstrations replacing them with a call to boycott companies linked to government members. The following day it announced mass action would resume on 24 January.

Displaced people in the Rift Valley and Western Kenya have been moving from small camps where they first sought refuge. Now most are either gathered in larger camps or have moved south and east to ancestral regions. However, this is placing strain on host communities and at times causing tensions between long time residents and new arrivals. The number of people remaining in the camps is now estimated at over 110,000.

Since the beginning of the violence, the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS), with the support of the ICRC, has been delivering food and essential household items to the displaced. These efforts are also reinforced by the UN and other organization s. Food rations and essential household items have now been distributed throughout the affected areas and quick fix solutions have been implemented to ensure water and sanitation facilities, despite the ongoing movement of the displaced populations. Community health clinics have been reinforced and mobile health clinics established.

Barring a new wave of violence and displacement, greater attention will be paid in the coming weeks to reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts, assistance to those who have resettled in other regions as well as the needs of host and resident communities also affected by the events.

" The ICRC is concerned about the degree of suffering of Kenyans from all walks of life, " says the head of the ICRC regional delegation in Nairobi, Pascal Cuttat. " We urge everyone connected with the events and the ongoing tension to ensure the respect of human life and dignity at all times. "

 ICRC / KRCS response:  

    

KRCS volunteers have been present since the beginning of the violence in all of the affected areas, providing first aid and medical evacuations. With the support of the ICRC and other organizations, it has delivered food and essential household items such as tarpaulins, blankets, kitchen and cooking utensils, mosquito nets and soap to those who have been displaced. The KRCS is also distributing food to 12,000 families in the various slum neighbourhoods of Nairobi. 

Joint ICRC/KRCS teams have been visiting the camps for the displaced throughout Western Kenya and the Rift Valley to ensure adequate supplies of clean water and proper sanitation facilities, installing where required pit latrines, as well as bladders and tap stands for the storage and distribution of water.

With ICRC support, the KRCS has set up tracing teams throughout the affected areas to help reconnect families who were separated during the events or in subsequent moves of the displaced population. Particular importance is given to unaccompanied children, the elderly and the disabled. The KRCS has registered over 150 cases of children separated from their families and has succeeded in reuniting over 120 of these cases.

The KRCS is also dealing with close to 150 adults who have lost contact with their families. Through improvised measures on the spot such as allowing access to Red Cross mobile phones, the KRCS has re-established family links in at least another 100 cases. The KRCS has also set up a telephone hotline for tracing requests with local numbers in seven cities and towns in the affected areas.

KRCS psycho-social teams have been set up to provide counselling services both to its own volunteers and to those displaced or otherwise affected by the events.

As of 1 January, an ICRC surgeon was dispatched to Eldoret to assist local hospital officials with operations and to help set up systems to deal with the heavy caseload caused by particularly violent incidents in that area. A four person surgical team continues to work at the Moi Referral and Teaching Hospital in Eldoret to treat burn victims and particularly complicated wounds. A total of 42 patients have been treated by ICRC surgical teams.

The ICRC also provided the hospital with material to treat 100 patients wounded by weapons as well as additional dressing material and consumables such as sutures and tetanus vaccines. More medical material has been made available by the ICRC to the Coastal Provincial hospital in Mombassa through the KRCS.

An ICRC forensic team was dispatched from Geneva to the Eldoret morgue, to help local authorities set up the procedures and systems required to ensure prope r identification of bodies as well as to receive grieving families who have come to identify the mortal remains of loved ones. The ICRC has also provided body bags, gloves, formaldehyde and two refrigerated containers.

 ICRC facts and figures:  

    

From the beginning of the operation at the end of December to 15 January, the ICRC has:

  • delivered 16 metric tonnes of BP 5 (a nutritional supplement) for distribution in Nakuru and Kisumu;

  • delivered 16,500 kits of essential household items to Bungoma, Eldoret, Kisumu, Mombassa, Nakuru and Nyeri for distribution by the KRCS. Each kit contains two blankets, a kitchen set, a jerrycan, a bucket, a tarpaulin, two mosquito nets and soap;

  • ensured proper water and sanitation services for over 17,000 displaced people by installing latrines, tap stands and water bladders as well as supplying water purification tablets;

  • provided 350 war wounded kits to treat 200 weapon wounded patients as well as 300 additional kilograms of medical material and consumables;

  • deployed 13 trucks and trailers to transport material as well as 17 light vehicles such pickups and land cruisers to support the operations;

  • deployed two ICRC planes and one helicopter to deliver supplies and personnel to affected areas;

  • installed rub hall tents for the storage of supplies in Bungoma and Kisumu.
     
     

To assist in the operations, an emergency team was dispatched from Geneva to work with ICRC staff already in Kenya. As of 15 January, the ICRC had deployed 40 expatriates and 155 national employees for the operations in Kenya in addition to the 135 national staff working at its regional logistics centre. The ICRC has also opened offices in Kisumu, Eldoret, Nakuru and Bungoma.