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Red Cross Steps Up Aid to Displaced in Kenya


The International Committee of the Red Cross says it is stepping up its humanitarian assistance to tens of thousands of people displaced by ethnic violence in Kenya. It is issuing a preliminary appeal for more than $13 million. Lisa Schlein has details from ICRC headquarters in Geneva.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says its appeal for $13 million is just a stopgap measure until the organization figures out what the total needs are for Kenya. ICRC officials say the monetary aid will help about 100,000 displaced people over the next four weeks.

ICRC Spokeswoman, Anna Schaaf, says a more comprehensive appeal is likely to be launched once the exact needs are known. She told VOA aid workers will go to areas hit by post-electoral violence to assess the situation and determine the needs.

"Approximately 15 expatriates are going in addition to Nairobi. And then, the first assessments in the field will take place, hopefully in the coming days. And once we have seen the situation in the field, we will decide whether it is necessary to send more staff or not, and what exactly are the needs in terms of food, in terms of household items, in terms of shelter and water," said Schaaf.

The Red Cross reports at least 350 people were killed and thousands wounded in ethnic clashes in Kenya. The United Nations estimates about a quarter of a million people have been forced to flee their homes.

The Red Cross says the majority of displaced people are living in terrible makeshift camps. Others are taking refuge in police stations or churches.

Schaaf says the ICRC's main priority is to support the Kenya Red Cross, which is actively working to provide help to the displaced and the injured.

"The Kenyan Red Cross staff has immediately, as the violence erupted, tried to give first aid to the people who were wounded and taking the injured to nearby clinics and hospitals, as well as collecting bodies and assessing the needs of the displaced," said Schaaf. "They are ready now to distribute relief items in the coming days."

Schaaf says hospitals and clinics are overstretched and need more help in treating the large number of wounded people. She says the Red Cross is distributing more medical kits, drugs and other supplies to help them cope.

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