Post-election violence in Kenya: AMREF situation report

Homes have been destroyed, burnt or looted, and hundreds of families are now living in police stations, churches and schools, many of them with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Shops, markets and vehicles have also been destroyed, leaving thousands of entrepreneurs and their employees with no source of income.

The towns most affected by the conflict are Eldoret, Kisumu and Kisii in western Kenya, Mombasa on the eastern coast and Nairobi.

The insecurity has led to a severe transportation breakdown. For days after the violence broke out following the December 27th election, major roads linking Nairobi to the coast and to western Kenya were blocked by gangs of armed youths, causing bus companies to cancel operations. As a result, many towns and neighboring countries have run short of gas and kerosene, the major fuel source for poor urban households, and in some cases causing prices to shoot up by up to 50 per cent.

Many people who traveled out of Nairobi for the holidays and the election have found themselves stranded, unable to travel back to Nairobi and other towns where they live and work.

Sakwa Mwangala, project officer for Kibera slum in Nairobi, which has been badly affected by the violence, is currently stranded in Kakamega. Sakwa said: “Two convoys have made it through to Nairobi now, so I hope to be able to go back to Nairobi with my family soon.”

He added: “Out of the 15 staff in AMREF’s Kibera Health Clinic, which provides health care for more than 97,000 people, nine people haven’t made it back to Nairobi, one staff member is in Eldoret, which has experienced horrific violence. Fortunately she is safe and is staying at the IDP camp near the police station.”

In anticipation of post-election violence, staff at the Kibera clinic made sure that patients living with HIV and TB had enough medication in the event the clinic closed. On Monday AMREF reopened the Kibera Clinic, but will close again on Tuesday due to rallies planned in and around Nairobi.

At least 45,000 people have taken refuge at Jamhuri Park in Nairobi – and more people are coming every day. AMREF expects that the internally displaced population in Jamhuri will be there for several months.

The African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) has vast experience in post-conflict health interventions, and is in discussions with the Kenya Red Cross on how to help the affected communities. Currently, people at the camps for the internally displaced have few, unreliable and unsafe sources of water, putting them at high risk of diarrhea and other water-borne infections, as well as dehydration.

According to AMREF’s Kenya Country Director, Mette Kjaer: “We are working with the Kenya Red Cross to ensure that AMREF’s intervention will be where we are most needed and most effective. The longer the crisis continues, the greater the risk to people's health.”

Within the greater East African region, the fallout from the violence is being felt in several countries whose economies depend greatly on consumer products from Kenya. The landlocked countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Southern Sudan depend on Kenya for petroleum products whose entry point is the port of Mombasa. In Uganda, fuel prices have sky rocketed to $5 per liter, while humanitarian operations in Southern Sudan have come to a standstill due to lack of fuel.

For more information, please contact:

Salima Pirani, Communications Manager
Phone: (416) 961-6981