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Violence In Rift Valley Hinders Aid for Displaced

The UN refugee agency says insecurity in parts of Kenya’s Rift Valley is getting worse and it’s unable to reach many people who’ve been displaced by political violence.

Millicent Mutuli is a spokesperson for the UNHCR. From Nairobi, she gave VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua an update on the situation.

“Over the weekend there was a fresh flare-up of violence in very many places in the Rift Valley. Evidently this has led to further displacement in areas such as the capital town of the Rift Valley, Nakuru, and a nearby town called Naivasha. Closer down to the town of Eldoret we had people also displaced near a location called Timboroa,” she says.

Asked for an estimate on the number of displaced Kenyans, Mutuli says, “At the moment, there isn’t any figure that’s coming out in terms of total displacement, evidently because the situation is still very fluid. People are still on the move. But I do know the Kenya Red Cross continues to use a figure of up to 250,000. The government figures may be much lower, but as UNHCR, we do not have a handle on the figures.”

As for the condition of the displaced in the Rift Valley, she says, “People basically have nothing because people are fleeing a pattern of burnt homes where they are pushed out and they are not able to salvage their belongings. So for the most part you find that people are coming out to displacement areas or to safe areas with literally nothing, really just the clothes on their backs.”

The UNHCR has also been helping to relocate Kenyans, who’ve crossed the border in Uganda. “We did start that operation to move an estimated 6,500 Kenyan refugees from border towns to a transit center that was set up further inland. By the weekend, we had move 1,000 of the 6,500 people that were at the border area. We’re noticing that there isn’t a huge interest for the refugees to move inland. Some have remained with their relatives and friends and say that they want to stay close to the border, where they can closely monitor developments inside Kenya,” Mutuli says.