Kenya

Kenya: Mt. Elgon Clashes - Information Bulletin No. 2

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The Kenya Red Cross Society's mission is to build capacity and respond with vigour, compassion and empathy to the victims of disaster and those at risk, in the most effective and efficient manner. It works closely with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which is the world's largest humanitarian organization and its millions of volunteers are active in over 185 countries.

In Brief

This Information Bulletin (no. 2/2007) reflects the information available at this time. For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

Mr. Abbas Gullet, Secretary General, Kenya Red Cross Society, Email; gullet.abbas@kenyaredcross.org. Phone 254.20.60.35.93; 254.20.60.86.81/13 Fax 254.20.60.35.89

Dr. Asha Mohamed, Deputy Secretary General, Kenya Red Cross Society, Email; mohamed.asha@kenyaredcross.org Phone 254.20.60.35.93; 254.20.60.86.81/13 Fax 254.20.60.35.89

Mr. Ahmed Abdi, Acting Head of Department, Disaster Preparedness and Response, Kenya Red Cross Society; Email abdi.ahmed@kenyaredcross.org Phone 254.20.60.35.93; 254.20.60.86.81 Fax 254.20.60.35.89

Mr. Anthony Mwangi, Public Relations Manager, Kenya Red Cross Society, Email info@kenyaredcross.org . Phone 254.20.60.35.93; 254.20.60.86.81/13 Fax 254.20.60.35.89

All Kenya Red Cross Society assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable. For support to or for further information concerning the Kenya Red Cross Society programmes or operations, or for a full description of the Society's profile, please access the Kenya Red Cross Society Website at http://www.kenyaredcross.org or the Federation's Website at http://www.ifrc.org

The Situation

According to the Kenya Red Cross Society 31,200 people have been displaced in land clashes in Mt. Elgon, along the Kenya-Uganda border since the onset of the clashes late last year. Out of these, more than 700 families have been displaced in Bungoma alone. The number of those affected continues to rise as violence continues to hit the district. Tension has gripped the area as more people continue to live in fear of more attacks. Security forces have been deployed to stabilise the situation. The death toll has now increased to about 60 with an average of one death per day. Last week, 11 children, 6 in Namwela and 5 in Kimabole, were reported to have died on their way to hospital due to complications related to malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea and malnutrition. The affected area is mosquito prone and very cold. Many more people have been injured and are nursing bullet wounds, panga cuts and burns from the clashes.

The most adversely affected areas in Bungoma District are Chwele, Malakisi, Mayanja, Tamlega, Sirisia, Lwandanyi, Tulienge, Machakha and Changara. In Mt. Elgon District, the affected areas are Cheptais, Tuikut, Kopsiro, Cheskaki, Kimabole, Kaptama, Kapsokwony and Chebyuk. The clashes are concentrated in Tuikut and Kopsiro areas of Mt. Elgon. The displaced people are living mainly in market centres with their kinsmen or with relatives in nearby locations.

Malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea health problems have increased since the onset of the clashes with the worst affected being women, children and the elderly. Dispensaries are currently seeing over 50 outpatients per day. This has put a strain on the already depleted resources in the available health facilities. There is further fear of outbreak of waterborne diseases due to increased usage of untreated water. Residents have been complaining of starvation due to lack of food. The attackers had burnt crops and forced the displaced people to do earn a living doing odd jobs and begging. Some men venture back to their former areas during day time to harvest some foods. In the process some are attacked again and in the process get injured or killed. Some of the displaced persons moved with their livestock to areas in nearby divisions causing tension in terms of grazing land.

Some schools in the clash areas still remain unopened, while in others the number of children reporting is very low. It is estimated that over 15 schools are closed. Most teachers in the affected areas have run way due to insecurity. An unprecedented over-enrolment of pupils has been recorded in some schools in areas that are not affected by the clashes, causing a strain on the education facilities. In Lwandanyi, for example, a primary school that accommodates 800 pupils is now hosting over 2,000 pupils.

Most of the displaced persons are traumatised by the episode and need counselling. The number of health personnel, social workers and other related stakeholders addressing these issues are few. There is evidence of increased drunkenness, prostitution and promiscuity and therefore the likelihood of an increased spread of HIV and AIDS. There is currently competition for the same fuel resources between the displaced persons and the locals at the market centres and the villages where the displaced are staying, thereby complicating the matter further. The villagers demand to access to the resources first. The price of charcoal has increased tremendously from Ksh 400 per sack to over Ksh 600.