The International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC, says it has sent enough medical supplies to Kenya's Nakuru Provincial Hospital to treat at least 100 weapon-wounded patients. This shipment of surgical and other supplies comes as ethnic fighting escalates in the east African nation's Western Rift Valley Province. Lisa Schlein reports from ICRC headquarters in Geneva.
The recent flare-up of ethnic tension and fighting in Nakuru, the Provincial capital of the Rift Valley has reportedly left at least 16 people dead. Many people have been wounded in the melee. And the International Committee of the Red Cross says an increasing number of casualties is arriving at the hospital.
ICRC Spokesman Marcel Izard says his agency has sent enough medical and surgical supplies to Nakuru Provincial Hospital to enable the staff to cope with the growing needs.
He says the Red Cross has not sent any doctors to Nakuru because violence only recently erupted there. But, he says, a surgical team that had been working in the Rift Valley town of Eldoret is now on standby and could be quickly sent to Nakuru if necessary.
"We had started to work from the first of January in Eldoret, which was the focal point of violence following the results of the elections," he said. "Now the team that worked in Eldoret has finished its mission after three weeks because things have calmed down in this part of the country. Now, in Nakuru things are getting bad now. That is the reason we have offered our help to the Kenyan government and we have told them if they need our surgical team there, we would look into this matter and see how we can respond."
About 250,000 people have been displaced in Kenya following disputed election results at the end of December. The first waves of ethnic violence erupted in Eldoret and in the slums of the capital Nairobi. The situation has calmed down in those areas and has now moved to Nakuru.
Izard says the Red Cross is closely watching events to see whether the fighting prompts people to flee their homes. He says many people have gone to their ancestral lands, because they feel safer living among their own tribal groups.
"People are on the move constantly," he added. "So, this is also a difficulty then to assist them if they are not staying in one place. So, we really cannot speculate what will happen next. We have to obviously be vigilant and see how best we can assist those affected by the recent violence."
Izard says children sometimes get left behind when people flee their homes in panic. He says the Red Cross helps trace the families of these unaccompanied children. He notes over 120 children so far have been reunited with their parents and another 30 cases remain to be resolved.
Besides providing surgical and medical supplies to the hospitals, he says the Red Cross also distributes food, clean water and essential household items to people affected by the violence.