Kenya

Red Cross relief aid in Rift valley

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ICRC NEWS 05

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KENYA: RED CROSS RELIEF AID IN RIFT VALLEY: For the past eight months, the Pokot and Marakwet districts in Kenya's Rift Valley have been rocked by violence between the two resident ethnic groups. Inter-tribal cattle-rustling has long been a source of tension in the area, but the conflict has escalated in recent months.

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KENYA RED CROSS RELIEF AID IN RIFT VALLEY

For the past eight months, the Pokot and Marakwet districts in Kenya's Rift Valley have been rocked by violence between the two resident ethnic groups. Inter-tribal cattle-rustling has long been a source of tension in the area, but the conflict has escalated in recent months. Thousands of people from both sides have had to flee their homes and are now living in caves and other temporary shelters with little or nothing to eat, having been forced to abandon their fields for fear of attacks. The displaced population has also suffered greatly from diseases such as Rift Valley fever, malaria and pneumonia.

With support from the ICRC, the Kenya Red Cross Society sent a relief mission to the area in January. Over 15,000 people were identified as in urgent need of assistance

Relief distributions, scheduled to begin on 18 January, were delayed for 10 days owing to the difficulty of reaching the affected area: the heavy rains that have been pounding the country for the past three months had washed away bridges and made roads virtually impassable. By the time the Red Cross convoy had reached the western town of Eldoret, it had become clear that the trucks, with their 10-tonne loads, were much too heavy to negotiate the region's rough, steep roads under such conditions. As a result, lighter trucks had to be sent and, as they had only half the capacity, the entire operation was slowed considerably.

So far, 68 tonnes of maize, 13 tonnes of beans and seven tonnes of oil have been distributed to some 1,300 displaced persons in Pokot and 1,900 in Marakwet. The operation is continuing, with deliveries planned to seven further towns.

Clashes have also erupted recently in the Rift Valley districts of Laikipia and Njoro, leaving thousands more displaced and in urgent need of aid. The Kenyan Red Cross has surveyed the areas involved and is discussing with the ICRC plans to provide assistance in the coming weeks.

Further information: J. Anselmo, ICRC Nairobi, tel: ++2542 716 339

Further information: Suzanne Berger, ICRC Geneva, tel: ++41 22 730 2307

During the weekend of 7 - 8 February 1998, for all information please call the press officer on duty, Michael Kleiner, on (mobile) 41 79 202 42 00