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Using Modern Technology to Reunite Victims of Kenya Violence

In Kenya, talks to settle the post-election political crisis resume Tuesday with former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan mediating between President Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity and Raila Odinga’s opposition Democratic Movement. On Monday, the opposition proposed to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a transitional government structure that would include a president, prime minister, and a cabinet.

On the humanitarian side, many Kenyans remain in internally displaced people’s (IDP) camps across the country. It is estimated that over 300 thousand people are internally displaced and over a thousand died from post-election violence. Samuel Mohochi is executive director of the Independent Medico-Legal Unit. With the help of the local cell phone company, his organization has set up a toll free service for people to report missing or dead relatives.

Mohochi told VOA his organization is documenting the horror that followed the December 27 disputed elections.

“Basically the information we are gathering is information that will be used in a multi-pronged approach because we have also noted that there are many children in IDP camps who do not have their parents. And this information we intend to share with other agencies like the Kenyan Red Cross and other humanitarian agencies on the ground like the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission to be able to reunite families and for the missing persons whom might be dead to also be able to link them up with the mortuaries and also establish the identities of this dead bodies,” he said.

Mohochi said his organization would use the information gathered to support victims and survivors in accessing justice.

“Our is an anti-torture based organization. We offer a medico-legal rehabilitation to torture survivors. And we also document, through provision of forensic services cases of death, especially when the allegations are raised against state agencies. But this time around, we have gone out of our way to try give our contribution in this crisis by documenting all cases of death irrespective of the perpetrators,” Mohochi said.

He said by providing support to victims and survivors, his organization wants to make sure justice is done.

“First and foremost what is not document never happened. And I had indicated earlier on that we have had deceased persons being buried without being carried to the mortuaries. So the calling facility will also capture information relating to people who have been buried and postmortem was not conducted. We are also trying to see, should there be an avenue for justice, we shall bring documentary evidence in terms of the victims of this crisis,” he said.

Mohochi said his organization has gotten help from the local FM stations that broadcast in the local languages to help spread the word about how to report on missing and dead persons during the Kenya post-election violence.