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Kenya: Ongoing violence curtails aid; food shortages loom

World Vision's staff reports abuses against displaced women and children have spiked; meanwhile, weekend violence hampered food distributions to 15,000 displaced in the western part of the country. (VIDEO)

UPDATED January 30, 2008: Looming food shortages




Please note: If a sponsored child is directly affected by a crisis or disaster, it is World Vision's policy to notify that child's sponsor as soon as possible.

Fauziah Salim, 32, holds her 2-week-old baby, Hire Yakub. The baby was born while Fauziah was running from post-election violence in Kenya. She fled with nothing and gave birth while on the run. Fauziah currently is staying at a camp for internally displaced persons in Nairobi.
Fauziah Salim, 32, holds her 2-week-old baby, Hire Yakub. The baby was born while Fauziah was running from post-election violence in Kenya. She fled with nothing and gave birth while on the run. Fauziah currently is staying at a camp for internally displaced persons in Nairobi. © 2008 John Kabubu/World Vision
A fresh wave of violence erupted in Kenya this past weekend, killing nearly 100 people in the western part of the country. Continued fighting has complicated the task of former U.N. chief Kofi Annan to bring together Kenya's political rivals for a resolution to the post-election crisis, Reuters reported.

Disputed presidential election results announced on Dec. 30 have ignited widespread conflict in this East African nation. An estimated 300,000 people have been displaced, and the crisis continues to primarily affect Kenya's poor and vulnerable.

Looming food shortages

Ongoing violence also has resulted in the widespread destruction of crops and grain stores, which likely will result in food shortages nationwide.

According to the recently released Kenya Food Security Update — compiled by the U.S. Agency for International Aid, the Kenyan government, and the World Food Program — there is sufficient maize to last through the next seven months, but prices may soon begin to rise. An increase in food prices would be another unneeded burden to consumers in this beleaguered East African nation.

Kenya's 'Bread Basket,' the Rift Valley region, has borne the brunt of the violence, World Vision's team reports. Additionally, the government has had to dip into food reserves to help feed the tens of thousands of displaced children and families living in temporary resettlement camps.

Video: In her own words

A Kenyan mother pleas for a resolution to the post-election violence in her country on behalf of the people who are suffering most — vulnerable children and families.
Watch video... (running time: 2:22)

    Food distribution halted


Meanwhile, security concerns resulting from the weekend violence forced World Vision staff to stop food distributions to some 15,000 displaced people in the Koibatek, Molo, Rongai, and Naivasha communities.

"We were planning to distribute food to more than 7,000 people in Rongai, near Nakuru, when the situation erupted and we had to flee for our lives," says Julius Mutuko, a World Vision emergency staff member. "This food is still yet to be distributed, as the situation is highly volatile."

World Vision is carrying out a risk analysis to ensure our staff can work in a safe environment in these areas to assist those in need. Several partners, including UNICEF, the World Food Program, and the German government, support World Vision's interventions in these areas.

Abuses on the rise


Moreover, tens of thousands have fled the post-election violence, only to face the threat of rape and abuse in displacement camps, reports Rhoda Kasimbu, a World Vision aid worker.

"Displaced people continue to camp in temporary, makeshift structures that do not meet international humanitarian standards," Kasimbu says. "These camps are unsafe for children and women since they sleep together in the same areas as men — increasing the likelihood of abuse. This situation is poised to lead to post-traumatic challenges, and the children need assistance to recover fully."

In response to the dire need, World Vision has established Child-Friendly Spaces in displacement camps to provide children with a sense of normalcy, giving them a safe place to play and participate in structured activities.

World Vision on the ground


World Vision's area development programs are slowly beginning operations as security status permits, says Hesbone Kang'e, a World Vision staff member in Kenya. Additionally, our emergency team there is continuing efforts to check on all sponsored children, many of whom have been affected by the violence.

Six-month-old Valentine Muthoni is fed by Grace Gitau, a World Vision staff member, at a camp for internally displaced persons in Nakuru, Kenya. Following the outbreak of violence in late December, World Vision has prioritized the needs of the most vulnerable who are affected most by the ongoing conflict.
Six-month-old Valentine Muthoni is fed by Grace Gitau, a World Vision staff member, at a camp for internally displaced persons in Nakuru, Kenya. Following the outbreak of violence in late December, World Vision has prioritized the needs of the most vulnerable who are affected most by the ongoing conflict.
© 2008 John Kabubu/World Vision

Meanwhile, in partnership with churches, local nongovernmental groups, the Kenya Red Cross Society, and other international aid organizations, we are distributing milk, bread, maize meal, and lentils, as well as blankets, mosquito nets, water containers, tarps, soap, and kitchen sets to nearly 155,000 displaced people.

Our relief operations are focused on assisting children and families most affected by post-election violence in Nairobi, Nakuru, Narok, Mombasa, and Kisumu townships.

More than 60,000 children are among the estimated 250,000 people who have been rendered homeless by the violence. Twenty percent of Kenya's children are already underweight for their age, and access to water, food, health care, and education is difficult in impoverished communities. Now, they face even greater, potentially life-threatening challenges.

"In one day, Nairobi Women's Hospital admitted eight girls who had been raped; the youngest was 12 years old," says Kasimbu.

Call for peace

Violent demonstrations since Dec. 30 have led to more than 800 deaths, numerous injuries, and the destruction of property in many locations across Kenya. Moreover, the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees estimates that some 5,000 people have fled to neighboring countries such as Uganda and Tanzania to escape the violence.

Meanwhile, Kenya's turmoil continues to affect the flow of humanitarian supplies to regional hotspots such as Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and southern Sudan. Neighboring countries also depend on Kenya for services, manufactured goods, and the use of Mombasa, a port city, for the flow of trade — making Kenya's continued instability a threat to the region's economic development.

World Vision is calling for a cessation of hostilities, protection of children, women, and other civilians, and safe passage of humanitarian staff in affected areas.

Learn more


>> Watch a three-minute video containing raw footage of children and families displaced by the recent violence in Kenya.
>> Read a United Nations update detailing how the continuing violence in Kenya has hindered humanitarian aid efforts.

Two ways you can help

>> Please pray for the protection of vulnerable families, World Vision staff, and others involved in delivering humanitarian aid. Pray also for a peaceful end to this crisis and healing for traumatized women and children who have suffered abuse, as well as those who have lost loved ones in the violence.
>> Donate now to World Vision's Disaster Response Fund. Your contribution will help World Vision deliver aid to desperate families and children affected by crises and disasters, like the post-election violence in Kenya.

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Learn more

Watch a three-minute video containing raw footage of children and families displaced by the recent violence in Kenya.
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Read a United Nations update detailing how the continuing violence in Kenya has hindered humanitarian aid efforts.

Two ways you can help

Please pray for the protection of vulnerable families, World Vision staff, and others involved in delivering humanitarian aid. Pray also for a peaceful end to this crisis and healing for traumatized women and children who have suffered abuse, as well as those who have lost loved ones in the violence.
- -

Donate now to World Vision's Disaster Response Fund. Your contribution will help World Vision deliver aid to desperate families and children affected by crises and disasters, like the post-election violence in Kenya.

 





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