The United Nations has launched an appeal for $42 million to assist victims of post-election violence in Kenya. From U.N. headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.

U.N. Chief of Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief, John Holmes, says the funds are urgently needed to provide humanitarian and early-recovery assistance over the next six months to some half million people affected by the violence that erupted in late December. The United Nations estimates that about half those affected have been internally displaced.

About two dozen donor countries from Europe and elsewhere have been asked to help. The money will go to support some 63 U.N. and non-governmental organizations delivering food aid, protection, shelter, water and sanitation and disease outbreak prevention. The largest amount of the appeal - ten million dollars - will be allocated to food aid.

Holmes says the U.N. hopes the situation in Kenya normalizes soon.

"What we want is a return to normality, a political solution as soon as possible, and also as I said last week, every effort to be made by all the leaders concerned - political, religious, whoever they may be - to prevent violence, to extend protection to civilians of all kinds, and to stop any kind of downward spiral of ethnic or other violence which may be very difficult to reverse once its stopped," said John Holmes.

Many parts of Kenya have seen violence following the announcement of the December 27 presidential election results. More than 600 people have been killed in post-election violence, a quarter of a million have been driven from their homes and another 6,000 have fled to neighboring Uganda.