UNICEF appeals for $6.6 million – 30 Jan 08

UNICEF appeals for $6.6 million to help those affected by post-election violence

© Reuters/Njuguna
People displaced after post-election violence sit at a temporary shelter in the Great Rift Valley police post in Narok town.

By Chris Niles

NEW YORK, USA, 30 January 2008 – UNICEF has appealed for $6.6 million to protect women and children as post-election violence increases in Kenya.

“We’ve come through several days of some of the most atrocious violence against children and women that Kenya has ever seen,” said UNICEF Kenya Chief of Communication Sara Cameron.

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is brokering peace talks between newly elected President Mwai Kibaki and top opposition leader Raila Odinga, but so far the talks have had little effect on the violence that has engulfed the country.

At least nine people were killed yesterday in response to the murder of Mugabe Were, a newly elected member of Parliament who was shot outside his house.

Reports of beatings, hackings and burnings are widespread. In one incident, 19 women and children were reportedly burned alive in their house. An estimated 300,000 people have been displaced.

© UNICEF Kenya/2008/Bonn
People from the Kikuyu community fled the Mawingu area after many of their houses were attacked and burned.

‘Thousands have fled’

“We’ve got thousands of people who’ve fled from their homes because they’ve been set on  fire, because they’ve been attacked, because they’ve been threatened or because they’re afraid,” Ms. Cameron said.

The reported cases of rape have more than doubled since the crisis began in December. Women in displacement camps who have complained have been openly threatened in front of aid workers.

The Kenyan Ministry of Health says 900 people are reported dead, although that figure doesn’t include western districts of the country where aid workers have little access. Kisumu, a city on the edge of Lake Victoria, has been the scene of repeated looting and violence.

Much more support needed

“The streets have been gutted, the shops have been gutted. They’ve been looted and burned and people have been driven away,” Ms. Cameron said.

© Reuters/Andrews
A displaced woman looks through the window of a bus as she leaves the town of Nderi, north of Nairobi, in the wake of post-election violence.

Frightened, hungry people are crowding into the more than 300 displacement camps across Kenya. Providing food and protection is an enormous logistical challenge. There are 80,000 children under the age of five in the camps. UNICEF is feeding 70 per cent of these children with UNIMIX, a high-protein porridge that helps prevent malnutrition.

However, much more support is still needed.

“Right now we need $6.6 million in order to provide emergency essential services, and part of that is $3 million that we really need urgently for education and protection,” Ms. Cameron said. “This is in many ways a protection crisis for a generation of Kenya’s children. Even if peace comes tomorrow, it’s going to take years for the country to recover.”

Source: UNICEF

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