UNHCR launches second aid distribution in Kenya
NAIROBI, Kenya, January 15 (UNHCR) - A second distribution of basic UNHCR aid supplies got under way this week in the south-west Kenyan town of Narok, with some 3,000 displaced people benefiting. The operation was launched Monday by UNHCR partner, World Concern.
Also Monday, trucks carrying sanitary supplies for up to 20,000 girls and women were dispatched from Nairobi to major towns in the Rift Valley Province. "We expect to deliver nearly 50,000 sanitary packs for 16,000 women and girls in the provincial capital, Nakuru, and another 10,000 packs for 3,300 beneficiaries in Eldoret," a UNHCR spokesperson said.
In Narok, the distribution of more than 1,000 family kits consisting of plastic sheeting for shelter, blankets, jerry cans, mosquito nets and kitchen sets is expected to be completed Tuesday.
The Narok district, part of Rift Valley Province, has an estimated 3,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) who fled their homes following the outbreak of violence in many parts of the country after the announcement of presidential poll results on December 30.
Many of the IDPs targeted for distribution of basic household commodities have taken refuge in about 10 different sites across the district, which is inhabited mainly by the Maasai community.
Tension remains high in the area, with isolated acts of violence still being reported. On Monday night, men armed with bows and arrows attacked a site in Narok holding 500 IDPs. They badly injured one person and told the displaced Kenyans to leave the area and go to their ancestral homes.
The main challenge for IDPs in this area remains shelter and sanitation. The displaced are sheltering in church compounds, although small numbers of people are also camping at police stations. Many of them are former residents of the Narok area, where they were involved in small business.
"Most of the displaced in Narok are currently living in churches, schools and government premises," said Alice Ballah-Conteh, head of the UN refugee agency's emergency response team in Kenya. She added that people in need of assistance were still arriving on Monday. "We will do all we can to ensure that we reach these people with much needed supplies."
Ballah-Conteh also noted that there had been unseasonal rains in Narok. "This is a big concern to us and other aid workers because children are exposed to cold," she said.
The latest aid distribution is the second organized by UNHCR. Last week, the agency provided the Kenya Red Cross Society with some 400 family kits for distribution to an estimated 2,000 needy families living mainly in Nairobi's slum areas. A total of 3,200 family kits, for 16,000 people have now been assembled at our warehouses in Nairobi and are ready for dispatch to assist IDPs in the affected provinces.
More UNHCR staff have been dispatched to Nairobi to assist the aid operation for tens of thousands of IDPs in various parts of the country. So far, 10 UNHCR staff have been deployed to support the IDP operation in Kenya.
The Kenya government reports that there are an estimated 500 IDP sites scattered mainly in the Rift Valley, Western, Nyanza and Nairobi provinces. As calm returns to some areas, the government estimates that IDP numbers in sites and community centres have gone from 255,000 at the beginning of last week to an estimated 203,000 by the close of last week.
UNHCR is continuing to work with the government, the Kenya Red Cross and other NGOs on camp management. UNHCR expects to sign agreements with a number of organizations to manage sites across the country.
The refugee agency's budget for the Kenya situation will be US$6.4 million - part of a UN consolidated appeal that is expected to be launched on Wednesday in New York. UNHCR's portion will go for protection, delivery of assistance, camp coordination and camp management, and emergency shelter. Money will also be devoted to HIV/AIDS projects.
In neighbouring Uganda, meanwhile, the number of people who have crossed the border from Kenya has reached more than 6,100, according to Ugandan authorities. Refugees have gathered in several eastern border districts, including Manafwa, Busia, Malaba and Bukwo around Mt Elgon. The refugees are staying in schools and other public facilities, and with host families.
Ugandan authorities want to move refugees to a temporary site in Mulanda, some 35 kilometres from the border. UNHCR will provide transportation from the border districts to Mulanda. The agency will continue to channel assistance to the refugees through the Uganda Red Cross.
By Millicent Mutuli and Emmanuel Nyabera in Nairobi, Kenya