IRC Distributes Emergency Supplies to Displaced Kenyans
Some 250,000 people are reportedly displaced by the unrest that began late last month and the numbers are still growing as sporadic clashes continue.
Many of the congested and squalid slums surrounding Nairobi have been flashpoints for violence. Numerous shops and ramshackle shelters were burned, destroyed or damaged. Most residents fled to more stable areas nearby and are now camping out on patches of land. They left most of their belongings behind and many are without adequate shelter, food, health care, sanitation or clean water.
Yesterday, the IRC worked with a local church to deliver basic food staples like rice, maize and cooking oil to more than 10,000 displaced people sheltering in the yards of churches and police stations in the Huruma neighborhood on the outskirts of Nairobi.
IRC teams also brought soap, water containers and cups to some 3,500 people who fled the volatile slum of Kibera and are seeking safety at the Jamhuri fairgrounds near Nairobi.
“These are destitute people who on a good day suffer from poor nutrition and limited access to health care,” says Kellie Leeson, who heads IRC aid programs in Kenya. “Now they are displaced and we’re concerned their existing health problems will go from bad to worse.”
The IRC will be coordinating with district officials and the Kenyan Red Cross to assess health needs and lend health care support.
Meanwhile, IRC aid workers are assessing humanitarian needs in the Rift Valley where tens of thousands of people have congregated after fleeing violent rampages in western Kenya.
“Conditions in some of the makeshift camps are abysmal,” says Leeson, “We’re hoping to begin health and hygiene activities to prevent the spread of disease.”
Leeson says regardless of what the future government looks like, tackling the root causes fueling the unrest must be a priority. “Unless rampant poverty and other critical issues are addressed, these tensions will only fester and sporadic clashes will continue,” she says. “People need to be able to rebuild their homes soon and in safety.”
IRC health, education and sanitation programs for refugees in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya’s Turkana District continue, as do other programs for refugees and host communities elsewhere in Kenya.