2 January 2008 Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has voiced his shock at the deadly outburst of violence that has gripped Kenya following the announcement of election results last week and has reportedly claimed the lives of 300 civilians, including dozens who were burned to death inside a church.
A statement issued by his spokesperson said Mr. Ban is “increasingly troubled” by the escalating tensions and violence in the aftermath of last week’s polls.
“He is shocked by reports that dozens of civilians were burned to death in a church in Eldoret, and that 300 people have now been reported killed in this deplorable outburst of violence,” it added.
Strongly urging the authorities to do all they can to prevent any further violence, Mr. Ban “reminds the Government, as well as the political and religious leaders of Kenya of their legal and moral responsibility to protect the lives of innocent people, regardless of their racial, religious or ethnic origin.”
The Secretary-General is in touch with the leadership in Kenya, the African Union and other concerned parties on how to address the current crisis.
Drawing attention to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the East African nation, Mr. Ban called for safe access for relief workers assisting those affected by the violence, including the large number of displaced people.
Humanitarian access has become a major problem, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which reported that the Nairobi-Nakuru road is currently being blocked by vigilante groups.
In addition, the UN Office at Nairobi (UNON) reports that transport corridors from the Port of Mombasa through Kenya have been restricted, disrupting supply chains to humanitarian and peacekeeping operations in areas such as Southern Sudan, Uganda and parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The Nairobi office has also highlighted disturbing reports of sexual abuse and assault against women and children. It is concerned that slum populations in cities are critically short of food and other essential items.
For its part, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says it is ready to help up to 85,000 people with shelter and basic supplies, and has already pre-positioned 13,000 family kits – which contain blankets, tarpaulins, cooking sets, soap and jerry cans – with a further 2,000 kits in the pipeline.
At the same time, the UN refugee agency has sent a team to the Kenya-Uganda border, following reports that 600 Kenyans have arrived there.
The UN system in Kenya has appealed to the Kenyan Government and security forces to establish safe corridors for public transport, ensure that ongoing humanitarian operations are not disrupted and initiate a national reconciliation process at the earliest possible opportunity, UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters in New York.
Meanwhile, the UN’s Disaster Management Team in the country is meeting today with the Kenyan Red Cross to assess humanitarian needs and determine how it can best help alleviate the current crisis.