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UN Chief Gets First-Hand Look at Nairobi Slums


U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has wrapped up his two-day visit to Kenya, where he had a first-hand look at the dire conditions of people living in one of the capital city's slums. Cathy Majtenyi reports for VOA from Nairobi.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held talks with Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki Wednesday shortly before leaving the East African country.

According to a presidential statement, Ban promised that the United Nations would make Africa's achievement of the Millennium Development Goals a priority.

The secretary-general and the Kenyan president also urged the transitional government in neighboring Somalia to use dialogue to bring about peace and reconciliation in that volatile country.

The talks also included the situation in Darfur, refugee movements in the region, and stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS.

But it was during his tour Tuesday of the Nairobi slum Kibera that the secretary-general came face-to-face with the misery of those to whom the U.N. Millennium Development Goals are aimed.

He shared with reporters his impression of Kibera.

"Having seen this situation where many people are suffering from a lack of affordable housing, sanitation, water, education, medical facilities, I feel very humbled at the same time as sad about the difficulties our citizens are suffering from," he said. "This visit gives me a very useful opportunity for me to look at firsthand the problems and challenges we are having at this time."

Ban told the crowd accompanying him that he would try his best to ensure that the Millennium Development Goals be realized in places like Kibera.

Among other things, the Millennium Development Goals strive to eradicate hunger, improve health care and education, and reduce child mortality in low-income countries.

Kibera, which is one of Africa's largest slums, is home to an estimated 700,000 people crammed into just 220 hectares of land.

Most of Kibera's residents do not have access to running water or electricity.

There is an average of about one toilet for every 2,000 people. This creates a practice known locally as "flying toilets," where human waste products are put into plastic bags and flung away, increasing the incidence of disease.

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