UNHCR flies in more humanitarian supplies to Kenya
NAIROBI, Kenya, February 25 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency has flown 2,345 lightweight family tents to Kenya for use by tens of thousands of people displaced in different parts of the country during post-election violence this year.
UNHCR chartered a Boeing 747-400 to transport the tents from its emergency stockpiles in Dubai and the aircraft landed in Nairobi on Friday. A further 2,655 lightweight tents are being shipped from Dubai to the Kenyan port of Mombasa.
This is the second airlift of aid to Kenya by UNHCR since violence erupted in western parts of the country after the December 27 presidential and parliamentary polls. A first flight on January 17 brought in 19,600 bales of plastic sheeting to be used for shelter, 40,000 mosquito nets and 15 generators.
"We hope to deliver these tents to the most affected displaced people before it starts to rain next month," said Alice Ballah-Conteh, head of UNHCR's emergency response team in Nairobi. Kenya has two rainy seasons, with the first running from March to May.
Since early January, UNHCR has distributed 10,000 family kits, 758 tents and 50,000 sanitary towels in parts of the country hit hardest by the violence, such as Rift Valley Province and the capital, Nairobi.
"With the current calm being experienced in Kenya, UNHCR expects to reach many parts of the country that could not be accessed earlier due to insecurity," said Ballah-Conteh.
Tens of thousands of Kenyans are still living in more than 200 sites for internally displaced people (IDPs) across the country. More than 80,000 IDPs, meanwhile, have moved back to their rural home areas, with many living with relatives or friends. This is putting a strain on the resources of those hosting them.
Last week, a UNHCR team visited the district of Kisii in western Kenya and found that some 44,600 people were living with friends or family. Most of these people worked on the tea plantations in Kericho district, some 80 kilometres away.
The UNHCR team also noted that hundreds of mixed marriage families had been separated due to the inter-ethnic strife in Kericho, which is dominated by the Kalanjin people. "A number of [ethnic Kisii] women we talked to in Kisii told us sad stories of how they had been forced to flee with their children and leave their [ethnic Kalanjin] husbands behind because they were in inter-ethnic marriages," said Ballah-Conteh, who led the team.
The UN refugee agency plans to distribute humanitarian supplies to IDPs in both Kisii and Kisumu, another region affected by the violence.
Meanwhile, UNHCR has sent a site planner to the town of Nakuru in Rift Valley Province to help the government and the Kenya Red Cross Society consolidate IDP settlements.
Most of the displaced people currently hosted in public buildings and church compounds are to be moved to consolidated sites, where they will have better access to aid and protection. UNHCR has trained more than 30 Red Cross volunteers and government officials in camp management and coordination.
By Emmanuel Nyabera in Nairobi, Kenya