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Kenya: responding to post-election violence

03-01-2008 Interview

Post-election clashes in Kenya have left hundreds of people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced. At least 30,000 displaced people have arrived in the town of Eldoret alone as roads re-opened. Pascal Cuttat, the ICRC's head of delegation in Nairobi, says the ICRC is supporting the relief activities of the Kenya Red Cross Society as far as possible.


  Pascal Cuttat    

 What is the general situation in Kenya at the current time?  

There are problems in many areas of the country, with widespread clashes, the most serious in the Rift Valley. Several hundred people at least have been killed and thousands have been injured. In the Rift Valley, hundred of thousand s of people have been displaced by the violence. There is also a concern about the lack of access for humanitarian workers to many affected areas. For this reason, we are unable to give exact figures for the numbers of dead and injured. There are many people touched by the clashes that no organization has been able to reach. Let me give one example of how difficult it is to assess the situation. Last night when a few roads re-opened around Eldoret, the scene of Tuesday's church attack in which dozens were killed, 30,000 displaced people entered the town.

 What has the ICRC been able to do to assist people affected by the clashes?  

The ICRC is working very closely with the Kenya Red Cross Society to respond to the situation. It provided a kit containing medical supplies for the treatment of fifty people to the Kenya Red Cross in the very first days after the clashes and it has placed two additional kits at the disposal of the KRCS in Western Kenya. An ICRC surgeon went to the hospital in Eldoret to help treat the injured. Working with local doctors, he performed operations on some of the wounded and helped local health authorities reorganize emergency services to cope with the crisis. The ICRC has also dispatched five trucks to Eldoret to help the Kenya Red Cross to distribute food and non-food supplies to the town.


 What further assistance is being planned?  

We are working very closely with the Kenya Red Cross to determine needs and how best to respond. We have indicated that we stand ready to help with food and non-food assistance to the displaced as well as delivering medical supplies to health facilities treating the injured. The ICRC has also offered logistical support to the Kenya Red Cross in the form of vehicles as well as expertise and materials to maintain water supplies and sanitation. We will also support tracing activities since there are thousands of families on the run who must have lost contact with their loved ones.

 What are the medium and long-term priorities?  

Right now, medical assistance is the priority. But longer term, we know there are hundreds of thousands of people who have been uprooted by the violence. Most of these have had to flee with few of their possessions. They literally ran to save their lives. Even if the situation were to calm down over the next few days, these people will require assistance for months to come as many have lost their homes, their crops or their livestock. We will stand by the Kenya Red Cross in trying to rebuild these lives.