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Kenya: ICRC and Kenya Red Cross step up humanitarian action

04-01-2008 News Release 08/1

Geneva (ICRC) – In response to the violence in Kenya over recent days, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is increasing its support to the Kenya Red Cross Society by dispatching additional relief supplies and staff. Hundreds of people are reported to have been killed or injured in the clashes, while tens of thousands have been forced to flee their homes.

" The ICRC's main priority is to work with the Kenya Red Cross to assist families that have been displaced by the events or dare not leave their villages " , said Pierre Krähenbühl, the organization's director of operations in Geneva.

As soon as violence erupted, Kenya Red Cross staff began to help by giving first aid, taking the injured to nearby clinics and hospitals, collecting bodies and assessing the needs of the displaced, while standing ready to distribute relief as soon as access permitted. The ICRC provided the Society with logistical support and emergency supplies. " We will support the Kenya Red Cross in every way possible " , Krähenbühl said.

The Geneva-based organization initially plans to provide enough food, household items, and water and sanitation equipment to cover the basic needs, for several weeks, of at least 100,000 people displaced by the ongoing violence. Those supplies will be available in the coming days for distribution by the Kenya Red Cross. The ICRC will also support its efforts to trace missing persons and restore links between people who have been separated from their loved ones.

To enable hospitals, dispensaries and Red Cross emergency medical and first-aid services to cope with the vastly increased workload, the ICRC is also distributing medical kits, drugs and other supplies for wound treatment. In the coming days, hospitals and other medical facilities will be visited by delegates to gauge their most urgent needs, in consultation with the Kenyan Ministry of Health. Additional medical supplies have been dispatched to Kenya.

The ICRC joins the Kenya Red Cross in urging all Kenyan autho rities and community leaders to ensure that the lives, safety, dignity and property of the population are respected without discrimination and to allow humanitarian organizations access to the families and communities directly affected by the violence.

The ICRC is asking donors for an additional 15 million Swiss francs to finance its expanding activities in Kenya. Given the uncertainty over the scale and duration of the crisis, the organization is prepared to further step up its work if the situation continues to deteriorate. The Kenya Red Cross and the ICRC are closely coordinating their activities with other Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and with officials of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies present in Kenya.

For further information, please contact:
  Anna Schaaf, ICRC Geneva, tel + 41 22 730 22712 or + 41 79 217 32 17
  Bernard Barrett, ICRC Nairobi, tel + 254 20 272 39 63 or + 254 722 512 728