MAP International offers aid in wake of Kenya political conflict - 28 Jan 2008

As tribal and political violence worsens in Kenya's Rift Valley, staff members at MAP's emergency health clinic in Nakuru are working around the clock to provide essential, life-saving medical care for those caught in the fighting. The clinic operates 24 hours with healthcare providers working in shifts to treat as many as 800 people a day.

More than a month has passed since Kenya's contested presidential election spawned violence between tribes supporting President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, yet hostility continues to worsen, most recently in Nakuru, where members of opposing tribes attack each other with machetes, guns, and bows and arrows. Hundreds have been injured, dozens have been killed, and frantic residents have sought shelter in churches and police stations.

Throughout the rest of the country, more than 700 people have died thus far and as many as 300,000 have fled, often only moments before rioters have attacked and torched their homes. Survivors have gathered in dingy, makeshift camps where food, water and healthcare is often lacking.

"The situation is extremely volatile," said Chris Palusky, MAP's relief director, who was recently in Kenya to assess the situation. "Many people have been hurt. Many people are sick. And everyone is afraid. It is imperative that MAP continue to provide emergency services for so many people who have been affected."

Once the most stable and secure country in eastern Africa, Kenya's unexpected brutality has unsettled the entire region. MAP, which has an office in Nairobi, has launched two other emergency medical clinics in addition to the one in Nakuru.

MAP's Molo clinic, about 200 miles north of Nairobi, sees more than 300 people a day in an area where 1,200 people have taken up temporary residence in a crude, improvised camp. MAP's third clinic serves hundreds of people each day near the Nairobi slum of Kibera, the largest slum in Africa and home to more than 1 million people.

With many people now living with little shelter and in unsanitary conditions, disease has easily spread. In addition to machete wounds, staff clinicians have treated people for malaria, diarrhea, respiratory infections and dehydration. MAP's clinics have also provided immunizations and psychiatric counseling for patients. MAP is preparing to open additional clinics if the violence continues.