Accessibility links

Aid Getting Through to Displaced in Kenya

U.N. agencies report security is improving in Kenya, allowing aid to get through to tens of thousands of people displaced by post-election violence last month. The most seriously affected regions are in western Kenya and near the town of Eldoret in the northern Rift Valley, as well as areas around the capital Nairobi. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from the U.N. European headquarters in Geneva.

About 200 trucks loaded with food and other essential items were stranded for days at the Port of Mombasa because of insecurity on the main roads and checkpoints set up by vigilante groups. Now that security is improving, the trucks are moving, but not everyplace.

International Organization for Migration spokeswoman Jemini Pandya says aid workers report transportation continues to be difficult because of sporadic insecurity and roadblocks.

"And these roadblocks can be made up of boulders and crude barricades, burning tires and trees and even tractors," she said. "And, that leading in and out of Eldoret an armed escort is being required for the movement of people and goods. Currently, transport of IDPs [internally displaced people] is either self-organized or being provided by the military."

A huge humanitarian operation is moving along on various fronts. World Food Program convoys have gone to Eldoret in the Rift Valley and to Nairobi with 670 tons of food, enough to feed 70,000 people for two weeks.

The U.N. Children's Fund is setting up a therapeutic feeding clinic in Eldoret for malnourished children. The U.N. refugee agency is providing relief items such as tents, shelter material, blankets, mosquito nets and soap to 100,000 displaced people.

Humanitarian operations for hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced people in neighboring countries also have resumed.

U.N. refugee spokesman Ron Redmond notes Kenya is a major humanitarian regional hub for the UNHCR and other agencies. He says a lot of aid supplies that get shipped to the port of Mombasa go to southern Sudan, northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.

"Refugee populations and displaced populations in all these countries are dependent to one extent or another on the flow of aid supplies through Kenya," he said. "So, it is extremely important. Fortunately, we have stockpiles in most of these places that will be sufficient to last for some weeks."

The World Food Program's operation to Somalia was put on hold after the electoral crisis. But a boat carrying food for tens of thousands of Somalis is now sailing from Mombasa, and a humanitarian airlift to Somalia also has restarted.

The U.N. agencies say Kenya's long-term stability is key to the humanitarian operations in eastern Horn of Africa.