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UNHCR delivers more assistance as Kenyan IDP numbers grow

Briefing notes

UNHCR delivers more assistance as Kenyan IDP numbers grow

1 February 2008

More UNHCR supplies were ferried yesterday (Thursday) from Nairobi to three displacement sites some 30 km outside the Kenyan capital in the wake of new evictions of nearly 10,000 non-indigenous communities working mainly in tea plantations and flower farms around Tigoni. There were other evictions Wednesday from homes in Kikuyu and Kabete. These are small towns just outside Nairobi.

UNHCR immediately handed over 1,800 family kits - enough for 9,000 people - and 25 lightweight tents to Kenya Red Cross for distribution to internally displaced people (IDPs) in the three locations at Tigoni, Kikuyu and Kabete. By yesterday (Thursday) afternoon, there were an estimated 7,000 people massed at Tigoni police station as more people arrived on trucks piled high with household goods. Some 2,000 more IDPs were camped at police stations in Kikuyu and Kabete.

Many of the IDPs at the Tigoni police station said they had fled after receiving on Tuesday morning chilling warnings to leave. The notices - giving them 72 hours to vacate their homes or face the consequences - had been delivered by unknown people via leaflets dropped at night in several Tigoni neighbourhoods. Some IDPs said landlords had asked them to leave for fear their houses would be burned because they were lodging "outsiders."

A registration that began on Thursday afternoon was to be followed by a distribution of the UNHCR-donated family kits. Each kit contains plastic sheeting for shelter, blankets, jerry cans, mosquito nets, sanitary supplies, soap and kitchen sets for a family of up to five people. Other distributions were carried out in Kabete. At a meeting with local authorities on Thursday afternoon, some IDPs expressed a wish to go to their ancestral homes, mainly in western Kenya. Many, however, said they could not afford the transportation costs.

This week, UNHCR has assisted in the evacuation of more than 250 vulnerable internally displaced people who were camped at Bahati police station, some 40 km from Nakuru, the Rift Valley provincial capital. The IDPs were brought to safety to Nakuru's main stadium, which is currently hosting 8,000 IDPs. The evacuation was organized jointly with the Irish NGO GOAL. UNHCR also provided more tents for some of the 5,000 IDPs camping at the Bahati police station, Holy Cross Church in Nakuru town and Solai police station, 50 km north of Nakuru.

Meanwhile, UNHCR on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Kenya Road Cross Society. Under it, UNHCR will support the Kenya Red Cross by providing emergency shelter and basic household items, assist with camp coordination and management, and strengthen systems for IDP registration. The government of Kenya and the Kenya Red Cross estimate there are now more than 250,000 IDPs living in over 300 IDP sites in various parts of the country.