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Violence subsides but families remain displaced in post-election Kenya

© UNICEF Kenya/2008/Cameron
After being driven from her home by Kenya’s post-election political violence, Lucia Aguda waits with her children at a camp in Kericho for transport to the neighbouring district of Kisii.

NEW YORK, USA, 11 January 2008 – The effects of post-election violence in Kenya continue to reverberate throughout the country. An estimated 250,000 people have fled their homes and are in need of food, shelter and essential medicines.

Though the fighting has subsided from its peak immediately after the elections in late December, tension remains high between political opponents divided along ethnic lines. Aid workers are concerned that families displaced by the conflict will be unable to return to their homes – many of which were burned down – any time soon.

At Jamhuri Park in Kibera, Nairobi’s largest slum, dozens of families are living in areas usually reserved for craft stalls.

Fatuma Roba, 22, is a Digital Diarist for UNICEF Radio and Voices of Youth, UNICEF’s online forum for young people. She lives in Kibera and recently visited the makeshift camp.

© UNICEF Kenya/2008/Cameron
Children wait in a barn on the outskirts of Eldoret town after they were forced to flee from their homes. They will be transferred with their families to a UNICEF-supported temporary camp.

‘Their house was burned down’

At the camp, Fatuma met children who hadn’t seen their parents since the violence started. “They’re just waiting for their parents – if they’re alive – to come and look for them,” she reported.

Fatuma was also shocked to find a friend who had lost her home, which was destroyed when an adjoining small store was set on fire.

“I was astonished – I can’t even explain it,” Fatuma said. “She has a baby and she lived with her sister, and they had a kiosk, so when the kiosk was burned the fire spread throughout and their house was burned down.”

© UNICEF Kenya/2008/Cameron
Families at a displacement camp in Kenya’s Rift Valley fled their villages after their homes were burned down by members of a rival ethnic group.

Long-term consequences

Meanwhile, around the town of Nakuru in Kenya’s Rift Valley – another area affected by violence – UNICEF and its partners are working to help 20,000 to 30,000 local people who have fled their homes.

UNICEF Kenya Nutrition Specialist Linda Beyer, just back from a trip to Nakuru, estimated that 40 per cent to 60 per cent of the displaced people in camps there are children. Their lack of access to hospitals or proper nutrition has created a fragile health situation, she added.

Ms. Beyer is concerned that the displacement could have long-term consequences for the well-being of families who rely on farming to survive.

“For them to actually benefit from the next planting cycle, they’ll have to be back in their home area by mid-February,” she explained, “or else they’re not going to be able to get things planted or get themselves re-established. So if we don’t get people settled in areas where they can return to their livelihoods it will be a longer response.”




10 January 2008:
Digital Diarist Fatuma Roba tells UNICEF Radio about the surprise she found on her visit to a makeshift camp for displaced people in Kibera, Nairobi.
AUDIO listen

10 January 2008:
UNICEF Kenya Nutrition Specialist Linda Beyer shares her concerns for the future of displaced Kenyans.
AUDIO listen

Voices of Youth

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