Kenya

Kenya: Mt. Elgon Clashes - Information Bulletin No. 4

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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. 4/2007) 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

Tension is still rife in Mt. Elgon District, with the number of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) increasing drastically to over 45,720 people (7,620 families) since clashes erupted in late December 2006. 137 lives have been lost and over 110 people have been injured by bullets, panga cuts and burns and are being treated in local dispensaries. Diseases and infant mortality have increased due to the weather conditions. Of the 137 lives lost, 43 people, that is, 30 children and 13 adults, lost their lives due to pneumonia and malnutrition cases.

The most adversely affected areas in Mt. Elgon District are Cheptais, Tuikut, Kopsiro, Cheskaki, Kimabole, Kaptama, Kapsokwony and Chebyuk. In Bungoma District, the affected areas are Chwele, Malakisi, Mayanja, Tamlega, Sirisia, Lwandanyi, Tulienge, Machakha and Changara. The clashes are concentrated in Tuikut and Kopsiro areas of Mt. Elgon. The IDPs are living mainly in market centres with relatives, while others are sheltered in churches, schools, mosques and government institutions.

With the escalation of the clashes, the current number of IDPs is expected to increase further. Tension has gripped the area as more people continue to live in fear of further attacks. Some residents have requested to be settled in camps since it is becoming increasingly difficult to live with relatives or pay rent.

Over 15 schools were adversely affected and closed down and learning severely interrupted in other schools due to the clashes. As security forces continue to restore peace, more people continue to move from their homes for fear of their lives. Residents have been left extremely vulnerable and are in dire need of food, shelter, clothing and water. The population is in dire need of food, shelter and clothing and potable water since most residents have been left extremely vulnerable as their houses and food stocks have been burned and their livestock and livelihood threatened. In an attempt to improve their economic situation, the affected people are working in shambas, hotels and other recreational areas, begging and receiving limited support from the local community and religious organizations. Prostitution has also escalated as residents attempt to earn a living.

Health facilities have been strained beyond their capacity with many health attendants abandoning their work because of fear of being attacked. There are limited health facilities and personnel in the health centres, compelling the few health workers to work round the clock to attend to the patients. Some, like Kimabole and Koksilo, are reported not to be operating at all. The Ministry of Health (MoH) through DMoH reported an upsurge of malaria, diarrhoeal diseases, Respiratory Tract Infection (RTIs) and other communicable diseases. This epidemiological trend is expected during and immediately after floods. Some IDPs, especially children and pregnant mothers, are suffering from pneumonia and malaria. A number of children are experiencing malnutrition. Most of the IDPs are traumatised by the experience and need psychological counseling.

The food security situation is in a deplorable condition as the IDPs left behind their crops on farmlands. Due to the security operation, the IDPs have not been allowed to harvest their crops, leading to wastage. There are also minimal farming activities going on, as people are not accessing their land currently.

Congestion in the hosting divisions has led to competition for scarce water and sanitation facilities, leading to a compromise of hygiene standards. Health problems have been exacerbated by the lack of adequate water and sanitation systems in churches, schools and government institutions where the IDPs sought refuge. The IDPs are likely to fall ill due to diseases such as diarrhoea and other diseases transmitted by the faecal-oral route. Other water and sanitation related diseases include those carried by vectors associated with solid waste and water.