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Kenya Humanitarian Update Feb 2003

Situation Report
Originally published


The government has continued with its waragainst corruption and plunderers of the national economy by announcing that it was investigating past misdeeds and would soon net those implicated in running down the national economy.

In order to stem a tide of industrial unrest, the government directed investors operating at the Export Processing Zones (EPZs) to raise their minimum wages to levels set out by the government with immediate effect. Some schools are having to cope with a 100 % or more increase after more than one million out of school children enrolled in various schools after introduction of free and compulsory primary education. In many schools, teachers were forced to do shift work with separate groups of children in the mornings and afternoons to accommodate the extra pupils.

A International Organisation for Migration (IOM) project to help Uganda ex-combatants retune home has identified a total of 230 ex-combatants and 126 dependants for return assistance. Registration took place from January 20 to February 7, and IOM interviewed a total of 588 persons including 12 child soldiers who responded to an amnesty granted by the Uganda government to exiled former rebels. In total, the number of persons registered was 930 which included dependants.

Close to 30,000 people have been affected by a malaria upsurge in Kitui and Kisii districts in January and February. The disease killed 68 people in Kitui District. The affected were treated at different medical centres. It was feared that the number could be higher as some deaths had occurred at home without being reported. Most of the health centres and dispensaries are ill-equipped and lack personnel to cope with the increased numbers of patients. The reported cases are higher than the usual figures for the month. Medics working in the area said the upsurge was due to higher rainfall in the month of December creating conducive environment for breeding of mosquitoes that spread the disease.

At the expiry of a one month amnesty granted to proscribed Mungiki sect followers, a total of 957 Mungiki suspects had been arrested and charged in court. In the last two months, the police have handled 1,124 Mungiki related cases. Most of the arrests were done in Nairobi, Rift Valley and Central provinces.

The Government had allowed the sect followers an amnesty until February 13th but only 167 adherents surrendered to the police. Those that surrendered were interrogated and recorded statements. Those arrested were charged with murder and other offences. The government announced it was setting up a special transport task force to look into the matatu business so as to stop interference from Mungiki and other groups. The group seems to have been surviving on money taxed from matatu owners. The arrest of Mungiki followers also stretched the capacity of jails that are already overcrowded. The United Nations Development Fund Kenya Country Office has donated US$100,000 towards reconstruction of a weir on River Perkerra in Baringo, destroyed by floods on December 21, last year. This was in response to an appeal launched by members of Kenya Food Security Meeting (KFSM) in January. The flood destroyed 300 houses and submerged another 1,700 in water. Pit latrines were swept away raising fears of an outbreak of water borne diseases. The livelihoods of 4,000 was threatened following the destruction of the irrigation scheme. It is estimated that the scheme generates between Ksh50-60 million per year. Consultations between the Kenya Government and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) are at an advanced stage on a possible review of encampment policy practised in Kenya. UNHCR has been talking with the ministries of Home Affairs and Internal Security and that of Planning and National Development.

UNHCR said indications are that refugees in Kenya could soon be allowed to work and interact freely with Kenyans. Also the National Rainbow Coalition Government has indicated that it would enact a fresh refugee legislation that will spell out roles and responsibility of various actors in this area.

Meanwhile, illicit arms that have been collected over a period of time will be destroyed at the Uhuru Gardens (Langata) in Nairobi to mark the 3rd Anniversary of the Nairobi Declaration on Small Arms and Illicit Light Weapons.

On Consolidation of initiatives of IGAD-CEWARN Community Policing, Steering Committee on Conflict Management and others, a secretariat dealing with peace building and conflict management has been established under the Office of the President and is based at KICC's 28th floor. All the initiatives shall be under the National Focal Point (NFP) which will be acting as an umbrella body. A Coordinator has already been appointed to work on the administrative issues of consolidating the above.

The second phase of capacity building on disaster preparedness will start in March. The trainings will be held throughout the republic in the eight provinces.

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