AMREF – Responding to crisis: Lessons from Kenya’s silent emergency

Responding to crisis: Lessons from Kenya’s silent emergency

AMREF’s Deputy-Director General, Dr Florence Muli-Musiime has warned that emergency institutions, both local and international, risk misdirecting their humanitarian crisis response if they are not sensitive to community dynamics that are not always visible in times of upheaval. In a powerful message to hundreds of delegates at the 35th Global Health Council Conference taking place in Washington DC, Dr Muli-Musiime described a ‘silent emergency’ that nobody spoke about following the post-election violence in Kenya, whose implications for healing and recovery has more serious implications for post-conflict health and social development than the more widely publicised plight of internally displaced people in the country.

‘When the crisis broke out,’ she said, ‘the focus of the health system was to mitigate the physical injuries, while that of the donor community and emergency institutions was on the Internally Displaced People. But we realised that there was a silent emergency which none of the two groups was looking at – that of thousands of people who were caught up in their own homes, unable to go to IDP camps because they would have had to go through hostile territory to get there, and unable to access health or any other basic services. To make matters worse, they were physically assaulted and sexually abused in their own homes.’

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OCHA Kenya Humanitarian Update vol. 21, 21-27 May 2008

OCHA Kenya Humanitarian Update vol. 21, 21-27 May 2008


– Representative of the Secretary General emphasizes the need to ensure sustainability of the returns and resettlement process.

– Over two thirds of IDPs have left camps and 123 camps have closed since January.

– 84,752 IDPs remain in camps and over 53,330 IDPs settle in transit camps.

– Aid agencies report funding gaps for proposed projects; only 31.8% of the EHRP funded.

The information contained in this report has been compiled by OCHA from information received from the field, from national and international humanitarian partners and from other official sources. It does not represent a position from the United Nations.

I. General Overview

The Ministry of Planning released the Economic Survey for 2008, which reflected a grim economic situation, beleaguered by increased inflation and slowing economic growth. Economic growth is now estimated to have declined to 3.5-4.5% in 2008 whilst the Survey noted that the post-election violence (PEV) had caused USD 3.7 billion in damages and agriculture productivity had declined by 8.1% from the 2007-2008 fiscal year. Meanwhile, the bill for oil imports increased by 18.8% in the past year, further constraining domestic production with higher input costs. Furthermore, the World Bank was cited to have estimated that five million more Kenyans have been impoverished as a result of PEV. In light of these poor indicators, the key determinates of economic recovery outlined in the Survey, included the country’s ability to achieve the following: political stability, rehabilitation of infrastructure damaged in the PEV, construction of new infrastructure and increased regional economic integration in the East Africa Community.

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UN Expert calls for renewed efforts to protect and assist Kenya’s internally displaced persons as essential to conflict resolution and peacebuilding

Source: United Nations Human Rights Council

Date: 27 May 2008


UN Expert calls for renewed efforts to protect and assist Kenya’s internally displaced persons as essential to conflict resolution and peacebuilding

Nairobi and Geneva, 27 May 2008 – “At this crucial beginning of recovery, special efforts by the government, humanitarian agencies and the donors are essential if the return of those displaced by the post-election violence is to be sustainable and compatible with international human rights standards. In the absence of substantially increased efforts, we will jeopardize the fragile process of building and restoring of peace in displacement affected communities.” This is the main conclusion of Walter Kaelin, the Representative of the UN Secretary General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, at the conclusion of his working visit to Kenya, from 19 to 23 May 2008.

The Representative commended the Government of Kenya, the Kenyan Red Cross, the international humanitarian organizations and the people of Kenya for the effective assistance and support provided to those living in camps since they were displaced by the post-election violence of December 2007 and January 2008. Today, the government’s effort to return the displaced from camps to their fields and homes (Operation Rudi Nyumbani) create particular challenges. These challenges include ensuring that returns are safe and voluntary, providing humanitarian assistance in the areas of return and at the transit sites, and restoring full protection of the IDPs’ human rights in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. Continue reading