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UNHCR offering aid for up to 100,000 displaced Kenyans

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UNHCR offering aid for up to 100,000 displaced Kenyans

5 January 2008

5 January 2008

GENEVA - The UN refugee agency said Saturday it is making available relief supplies for up to 100,000 Kenyans displaced by recent turmoil in the East African country, where UNHCR already cares for more than 270,000 refugees from elsewhere in Africa.

"We are providing immediate aid for up to 100,000 people as part of the overall UN response," said Deputy High Commissioner L. Craig Johnstone. "We have supplies for 50,000 people in our Nairobi warehouse and will bring in additional items from UNHCR's regional emergency stockpiles in Dubai or in Tanzania."

An estimated 250,000 people have been displaced in post-electoral violence in Kenya. UNHCR will work with government aid officials, the Kenyan Red Cross and other humanitarian agencies in organizing distribution of the relief supplies. The operation is focused on displaced people in the Rift Valley and in areas around Nairobi. A UNHCR advance emergency team is also scheduled to fly to Nairobi over the weekend to support the agency's staff based in Kenya.

A UNHCR team in Uganda also monitored the situation along that country's border with Kenya on Saturday. They reported that some 2,000 Kenyans had crossed into Uganda in the Tororo region, but the situation had stabilized and was under control.

Citing Kenya's long and generous record of support to refugees from throughout Africa, Johnstone said UNHCR wanted to provide as much humanitarian help as possible to Kenyans affected by the current turmoil.

"Over the years, Kenya has shown tremendous generosity in helping uprooted people from throughout the region," Johnstone said. "It is extremely distressing to see Kenyans themselves now being displaced and we want to do as much as we can to help alleviate their suffering."

More than 270,000 refugees from the East and Horn of Africa are currently staying in Kenya, most of them in UNHCR-run camps in the remote north of the country housing primarily Somalis and Sudanese. Kenya also provides a vital lifeline for the flow of aid supplies to these camps, as well as to UNHCR-assisted refugee populations in Southern Sudan, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. Nairobi is UNHCR's major administrative and operational centre for the region.

Noting Kenya's importance as a humanitarian hub for much of the region, Johnstone said it was imperative that aid agencies have safe and unhindered access to those in need.